What is mesenteric lymphadenitis?

Mesenteric lymphadenitis (also known as mesenteric adenitis) is inflammation (swelling) of the lymph nodes in the abdomen (belly). Lymph nodes are organs that are part of the body’s immune system. They filter harmful substances such as bacteria and viruses so that they don’t spread to other parts of the body. Normally, lymph nodes are small (about the size of a pea), but they can become enlarged and tender when they become inflamed.

Who is affected by mesenteric lymphadenitis?

Mesenteric lymphadenitis is common in children and teenagers. It usually does not occur in people over 20 years old.

What causes mesenteric lymphadenitis?

Mesenteric lymphadenitis is usually caused by an infection by a virus or bacteria. Usually the main infection is in the intestinal tract, often causing symptoms of diarrhea. As the bacteria or viruses are filtered by the mesenteric lymph nodes, the lymph nodes become larger and tender, causing pain.

What are the symptoms of mesenteric lymphadenitis?

Symptoms of mesenteric lymphadenitis include:

  • Pain in the abdomen, often on the lower right side
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/18/2018.


  • Helbling R, Conficconi, Wyttenbach M, et al. Acute Nonspecific Mesenteric Lymphadenitis: More Than “No Need for Surgery.” Biomed Res Int. 2017; 2017: 9784565. Published online 2017 Feb 2. doi: 10.1155/2017/9784565
  • Omics International. Mesenteric Lymphadenitis. Accessed 9/21/2018.
  • Reust C, Williams A. Acute Abdominal Pain in Children. Am Fam Physician. 2016 May 15;93(10):830-837.

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