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Abdominal Angina Clinical Presentation

  • Author: Faisal Aziz, MD; Chief Editor: John Geibel, MD, DSc, MSc, MA  more...
Updated: Apr 22, 2016


The classic description is abdominal pain that is out of proportion with physical examination findings. The classic feature is abdominal pain, which occurs a few minutes after eating and slowly subsides over next few hours.[6] Gradually, most patients develop fear of eating and lose significant weight. A history of peripheral vascular disease and significant smoking is common.


Physical Examination

Physical examination reveals stigmata of weight loss. The abdomen typically is scaphoid and soft, even during an episode of pain.

In one series, approximately 10% of patients had positive test results for guaiac. Abdominal bruit is present in 60-90% of patients, but this is common in many elderly persons who are not affected by this syndrome.

Signs of peripheral vascular disease, particularly aortoiliac occlusive disease, may be present.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Faisal Aziz, MD Assistant Professor of Surgery, Divsion of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, Department of Surgery, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine

Faisal Aziz, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Anthony J Comerota, MD, FACS, FACC, FRACS Director of Jobst Vascular Institute, Program Director of General Vascular Surgery Residency, Toledo Hospital; Director of Jobst (ProMedica) Vascular Laboratories; Adjunct Professor of Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Michigan Medical School

Anthony J Comerota, MD, FACS, FACC, FRACS is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American College of Cardiology, American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Surgeons, American Heart Association, American Surgical Association, Association for Academic Surgery, Society for Vascular Surgery, Society of University Surgeons, American Stroke Association, American Venous Forum, Eastern Vascular Society, Society for Clinical Vascular Surgery

Disclosure: Received honoraria from BMS for speaking and teaching; Received consulting fee from BMS for consulting; Received grant/research funds from BMS for research studies; Received honoraria from Covidien for speaking and teaching; Received consulting fee from Covidien for consulting; Received honoraria from Otsuka for speaking and teaching; Received honoraria from Sanofi/Aventis for speaking and teaching; Received consulting fee from Sanofi/Aventis for consulting; Received grant/research funds from Sa.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

David L Morris, MD, PhD, FRACS Professor, Department of Surgery, St George Hospital, University of New South Wales, Australia

David L Morris, MD, PhD, FRACS is a member of the following medical societies: British Society of Gastroenterology

Disclosure: Received none from RFA Medical for director; Received none from MRC Biotec for director.

Chief Editor

John Geibel, MD, DSc, MSc, MA Vice Chair and Professor, Department of Surgery, Section of Gastrointestinal Medicine, and Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Yale University School of Medicine; Director, Surgical Research, Department of Surgery, Yale-New Haven Hospital; American Gastroenterological Association Fellow

John Geibel, MD, DSc, MSc, MA is a member of the following medical societies: American Gastroenterological Association, American Physiological Society, American Society of Nephrology, Association for Academic Surgery, International Society of Nephrology, New York Academy of Sciences, Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract

Disclosure: Received royalty from AMGEN for consulting; Received ownership interest from Ardelyx for consulting.

Additional Contributors

Marc D Basson, MD, PhD, MBA, FACS Associate Dean for Medicine, Professor of Surgery and Basic Science, University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences

Marc D Basson, MD, PhD, MBA, FACS is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American College of Surgeons, American Gastroenterological Association, Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


We wish to thank Carol EH Scott-Conner, MD, PhD, and Beth Ballinger, MD, for their previous contributions to this article.

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Superior mesenteric artery and inferior mesenteric artery share collateral circulation near splenic flexure of colon. When dilated, this vessel is termed meandering mesenteric artery. As seen on angiography, this is sign of chronic mesenteric ischemia.
Pancreaticoduodenal arcades are collateral pathways between celiac artery and superior mesenteric artery.
Lateral aortogram shows abrupt cutoffs at origin of visceral vessels and tapered occlusion of distal aorta. Because these vessels originate from anterior surface of the aorta, stenoses and occlusions are not observed clearly on standard anteroposterior views.
Arteriogram illustrates meandering mesenteric artery. Appearance of meandering mesenteric artery such as this one supports diagnosis of chronic mesenteric ischemia.
Celiac artery is exposed at its origin in preparation for antegrade bypass.
Superior mesenteric artery and several branches are exposed for antegrade bypass.
Antegrade bypass from aorta to superior mesenteric artery (SMA) and celiac artery (SMA anastomosis is shown) using Dacron graft.
Completed retrograde bypass to superior mesenteric artery using expanded polytetrafluoroethylene graft material. Image courtesy of Jamal Hoballah, MD, University of Iowa College of Medicine.
Possible incision for trapdoor aortotomy. Plaque at orifices of visceral vessels is removed after trapdoor incision is lifted. When satisfactory endarterectomy has been achieved, trapdoor is sutured shut.
Completion duplex ultrasonographic study shows excellent flow at distal anastomosis.
Upper gastrointestinal series (barium swallow) shows ulcer.
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