The mesenteric arteries supply blood to the small and large intestines; when these narrow or are blocked, blood flow is restricted and can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Two types exist:
- Acute mesenteric artery ischemia is an emergency. Surgery is usually performed to remove the clot. In some cases, the surgeon must also create a bypass around the blockage.
- Chronic mesenteric artery ischemia is treated by removing the blockage and reconnecting the arteries to the aorta. A bypass around the blockage can be created with a plastic tube graft.
Mesenteric artery ischemia is often seen in conjunction with hardened arteries in other parts of the body (for example, those with coronary artery disease or peripheral vascular disease). The condition is more common in smokers and in patients with high blood pressure or blood cholesterol.