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Acute Mesenteric Ischemia Differential Diagnoses

  • Author: Chat V Dang, MD; Chief Editor: John Geibel, MD, DSc, MSc, MA  more...
 
Updated: Dec 16, 2015
 
 

Diagnostic Considerations

Because acute mesenteric ischemia (AMI) is a condition with an unclear initial presentation, a substantial morbidity, and a high mortality if not properly treated, a high index of clinical suspicion should be maintained. Computed tomography (CT) angiography should be performed at an early stage if any suspicion of AMI exists, and subsequent treatment should be initiated as rapidly as possible. No patient in whom AMI is suspected should be discharged unless AMI can be ruled out.

A diagnosis of AMI should be considered in all elderly patients with abdominal pain, especially if the pain is disproportionate to physical examination findings. Patients with atrial fibrillation, cardiovascular disease, or peripheral vascular disease, especially those with recent myocardial infarction, are at higher risk.

A diagnosis of mesenteric venous thrombosis (MVT) is usually confirmed during laparotomy or autopsy. Only after other causes of a hypercoagulable state have been excluded can a patient be considered to have idiopathic venous thrombosis.

In addition to the conditions listed in the differential diagnosis, other problems to consider include the following:

  • Ovarian torsion
  • Volvulus of midgut
  • Splenic vein thrombosis
  • Crohn disease colitis
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Perforated viscus
  • Hepatic disease

Differential Diagnoses

 
 
Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Chat V Dang, MD Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine, Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science; Clinical Professor, Department of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Coauthor(s)

Mark Su, MD, MPH, FACEP, FACMT Consulting Staff and Director of Fellowship in Medical Toxicology, Department of Emergency Medicine, North Shore University Hospital

Mark Su, MD, MPH, FACEP, FACMT is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Clinical Toxicology, American College of Emergency Physicians, American College of Medical Toxicology, Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Daniel K Nishijima, MD, MAS Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Associate Research Director, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of California, Davis, School of Medicine

Daniel K Nishijima, MD, MAS is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Emergency Medicine, American College of Emergency Physicians, Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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.

Acknowledgements

David FM Brown, MD Associate Professor, Division of Emergency Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Vice Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital

David FM Brown, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Emergency Physicians and Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

Disclosure: lippincott Royalty textbook royalty; wiley Royalty textbook royalty

Burt Cagir, MD, FACS Assistant Professor of Surgery, State University of New York Upstate Medical University; Consulting Staff, Director of Surgical Research, Robert Packer Hospital; Associate Program Director, Department of Surgery, Guthrie Clinic

Burt Cagir, MD, FACS is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association, Association of Program Directors in Surgery, and Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Brian James Daley, MD, MBA, FACS, FCCP, CNSC Professor and Program Director, Department of Surgery, Chief, Division of Trauma and Critical Care, University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine

Brian James Daley, MD, MBA, FACS, FCCP, CNSC is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association, Association for Academic Surgery, Association for Surgical Education, Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma, Shock Society, Society of Critical Care Medicine, Southeastern Surgical Congress, Southern Surgical Association, andTennessee Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Michael A Grosso, MD Consulting Staff, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, St Francis Hospital

Michael A Grosso, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Surgeons, Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and Society of University Surgeons

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chandler Long, MD Resident Physician, Department of Surgery, University of Tennessee Medical Center-Knoxville

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Ashis Mandal, MD Professor, Department of Surgery, Drew University of Medicine and Science and UCLA College of Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Robert M McNamara, MD, FAAEM Chair and Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine

Robert M McNamara, MD, FAAEM is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Emergency Medicine, American Medical Association, Pennsylvania Medical Society, and Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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: RFA Medical None Director; MRC Biotec None Director

Yale D Podnos, MD, MPH Consulting Surgeon, Department of Surgery, City of Hope National Medical Center

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Gary Setnik, MD Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Mount Auburn Hospital; Assistant Professor, Division of Emergency Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Gary Setnik, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Emergency Physicians, National Association of EMS Physicians, and Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

Disclosure: SironaHealth Salary Management position; South Middlesex EMS Consortium Salary Management position; ProceduresConsult.com Royalty Other

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

Disclosure: Medscape Salary Employment

Deron J Tessier, MD Staff Surgeon, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Fontana, CA

Deron J Tessier, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Surgeons and American Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Jeff Wade, MD Resident Physician, Department of Emergency Medicine, Long Beach Community Hospital, Greater El Monte Medical Center

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Russell A Williams, MBBS Program Director, Professor, Department of Surgery, University of California Medical Center at Irvine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Pneumatosis intestinalis (black stripes of air) in advanced acute mesenteric ischemia (AMI) with gangrenous bowel.
CT scan (with contrast) of nonocclusive mesenteric ischemia with resulting bowel wall edema (arrows).
Aortogram showing narrowing of superior mesenteric artery.
Radiograph showing bowel spasm (early sign of ischemia).
Gas in colon wall (typical of advanced ischemia).
Ischemia stricture.
Thumbprinting of bowel, characteristic of mesenteric artery ischemia.
Pathologic findings 2 hours after bowel ischemia starts.
Microscopic findings 24 hours after ischemia starts.
Gross specimen showing hemorrhagic dead bowel after resection from patient with acute mesenteric ischemia.
Pneumatosis intestinalis, one of few radiographic findings in patients with mesenteric ischemia.
Diagnosis and treatment of intestinal ischemia (mesenteric venous thrombosis and major nonembolic arterial occlusion). Solid lines indicate accepted management plan; dashed lines indicate alternate management plan. DVT=deep vein thrombosis; SMA=superior mesenteric artery. Adapted from Gastroenterology. 2000 May;118(5):954-68.
Diagnosis and treatment of intestinal ischemia (minor arterial occlusion or embolus, major embolus, and splanchnic vasoconstriction without occlusion). Solid lines indicate accepted management plan; dashed lines indicate alternate management plan. DVT=deep vein thrombosis; SMA=superior mesenteric artery. Adapted from Gastroenterology. 2000 May;118(5):954-68.
Management of colon ischemia. Solid lines indicate accepted management plan; dashed lines indicate alternative management plan. BE=barium enema; NPO—nil per os (nothing by mouth); PLC=protein-losing colopathy; IBD=inflammatory bowel disease. Adapted from Gastroenterology. 2000 May;118(5):954-68.
Complete aortic occlusion (Leriche syndrome) with acute embolism of superior mesenteric artery.
Gross specimen of dead bowel.
Meandering artery (radiographic sign of preexisting bowel ischemia).
CT scan demonstrating thrombosis of superior mesenteric vein.
CT scan demonstrating thrombosis of portal vein.
CT scan demonstrating cavernous change of superior mesenteric vein as consequence of venous thrombosis.
 
 
 
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