Mesenteric Intervention | Loyola Medicine

Mesenteric Intervention

Advanced Surgical Treatments for Intestinal Arterial Blockage

Doctors at Loyola Medicine are experienced and compassionate in the treatment of narrowed or blocked mesenteric arteries. The mesenteric arteries supply blood to your small and large intestines. These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood and nutrients to your intestines and can become narrowed from the buildup of fatty deposits, which results in atherosclerosis. If a severe artery blockage occurs, you may experience significant abdominal pain after eating, develop a fear of eating and even lose weight. 

If you are experiencing severe mesenteric artery blockage, intervention is necessary to restore blood flow, reduce pain and improve quality of life. Conditions that can be improved with mesenteric angioplasty, stenting and bypass surgery include:

  • Acute ischemic attack — Acute blockages in the intestines must be treated immediately to prevent tissue death
     
  • Atherosclerosis  — Buildup of fatty matter and plaque on the blood vessel walls
     
  • Mesenteric artery ischemia — May also be referred to as intestinal ischemic syndrome or mesenteric ischemic syndrome. Mesenteric artery ischemia occurs when blood flow to the major arteries to the intestines become blocked or narrowed. In most cases, this is caused by atherosclerosis but also may be caused by blood clots or aneurysms in the arteries. 

Why Choose Loyola for Mesenteric Artery Intervention?

Loyola’s cardiology and heart surgery program is nationally recognized for our diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular conditions. We work with you to help you understand your condition and develop a treatment plan that is right for you.

What to Expect with Mesenteric Artery Intervention

Depending on the degree of blockage and your overall health, your Loyola doctor may discuss the following treatment options with you to improve blood circulation to the intestine and improve abdominal pain: 

  • Angioplasty and stenting — This procedure is typically performed under local anesthetic.  A catheter is placed through a small puncture site in either the groin or the arm. A vascular surgeon inflates a small balloon inside a narrowed mesenteric artery (balloon catheter). After widening the artery, blood flow may be restored. The surgeon may insert a stent, a tiny mesh tube, to support the walls of the affected artery and hold the artery open. In general, patients are admitted to the hospital for a few days following the procedure.
     
  • Bypass surgery — In cases of total blockage, bypass surgery may be performed in order to reroute blood flow to the intestines using your own blood vessels or artificial grafts. This procedures requires a general anesthetic and is performed through an incision in the abdomen. Patients can expect to stay in the hospital for approximately a week after surgery.
     
  • Lifestyle adjustments — An option to reverse atherosclerosis naturally. Lifestyle changes can include following a low-fat and low-sodium diet to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Daily exercise can also lower cholesterol, regulate blood pressure and increase heart health.
     
  • Medication — Several medical interventions are available:
    • A “clot busting” medication may be injected into the artery to break up a clot. 
    • Antibiotics may be prescribed if an infection has caused the artery blockage. 
    • Blood thinners may be used to prevent future blood clots. 
    • Vasodilators may be used to widen blood vessels and increase circulation. 

What are the Risks of Mesenteric Artery Intervention?

Your Loyola doctors will discuss the risks and benefits of any proposed treatment plan with you. While mesenteric artery intervention is generally successful, any surgical procedure carries risks that can include:

  • Bleeding or clotting in the area where the catheter was inserted
  • Blood clot
  • Damage to a blood vessel
  • Embolism, a blood clot from the surgical site traveling to vessels in the heart, lungs or brain
  • Heart attack
  • Infection or opening of the surgical wound
  • Nerve damage
  • Postoperative bleeding
  • Restenosis (renarrowing of the artery)
  • Rupture of the artery
  • Stroke