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Visceral Ischemic Syndrome

Ischemia means lack of blood supply. Visceral ischemic syndromes - also called intestinal or mesenteric ischemic syndromes - occur when blood flow to the bowel or gastrointestinal system (intestines) is decreased because of a blood vessel blockage.

The three major abdominal blood vessels that may become blocked include the celiac artery, superior mesenteric artery or inferior mesenteric artery. Usually two or three of these arteries must be narrowed or blocked to cause intestinal ischemic syndromes.

In most cases, ischemic syndromes are caused by atherosclerosis (buildup of fatty matter and plaque on the blood vessel walls), leading to narrowing or blockage of the vessel. The conditions also can be caused by blood clots or aneurysms (an abnormal enlargement or bulging) in the vessels.

Acute mesenteric ischemia is a life-threatening condition. In contrast, chronic mesenteric ischemia is characteristically associated with abdominal pain after meals. The onset of pain is usually gradual and progressive. Eventually, this situation results in substantial weight loss and a marked alteration in dietary intake.

What are the treatment options for visceral ischemic syndrome?

Several nonsurgical and surgical treatment options are available for visceral ischemic syndrome. The goals of treatment are to reduce symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. Your health care provider will recommend the treatment option that is right for you. Before choosing any visceral ischemic syndrome treatment, it is important to discuss the potential benefits, risks and side effects with your health care provider. You will receive specific guidelines to help you prepare for your procedure, as well as specific instructions to help your recovery.

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