CT angiography of the splanchnic vessels

Multi-slice CT angiography of the splanchnic vessels is a powerful minimally invasive technique for evaluation of the splanchnic vascular system.

The actual procedure will vary depending on institutional protocol/guidelines but below is a typical description 2, 4:

  • patient receives 500-800 ml of negative oral contrast water to opacify the stomach and small bowels
  • patient in supine position with arms up behind his head
  • peripheral venous access (18-20G) in an antecubital vein
  • a volume of 100–120 mL of iodinated contrast material is administered at a rate of 4-5 mL/sec.
  • because both the mesenteric arterial and venous systems must be adequately evaluated, arterial and venous phases are obtained.
    • arterial phase (obtained 25-30 seconds after contrast agent injection), images are obtained from above the level of the coeliac axis to the level of the common iliac arteries.
    • portal phase (obtained 60–70 seconds after contrast agent injection), images in this phase are obtained from above the level of the diaphragm to below the level of the symphysis pubis. 
Data acquisition and analysis
  • images are analyzed on a dedicated workstation.
  • two-dimensional (2D) multi-planar images, as well as rendering techniques such as maximum intensity projection (MIP), surface shaded displays (SSD) and volume rendering (VR)
  • for 3D images of the splanchnic veins, coronal images of the portal vein and the proximal portion of SMV with its confluence to the splenic vein 1,3

CT angiograms are assessed for evidence of arterial stenosis or occlusion e.g.

  • vessel occlusion is defined as complete obstruction of the lumen
  • hemodynamically significant vessel stenosis is defined as a reduction in lumen diameter  > 50%
  • hemodynamically insignificant stenosis is defined as a reduction in lumen diameter < 50% 1

Axial CT images should be evaluated for secondary signs of ischemia e.g. bowel wall thickening, focal lack of bowel wall enhancement, bowel dilatation, mesenteric stranding, ascites, pneumatosis intestinalis, free superior mesenteric or portal venous gas, intraperitoneal air, solid organ infarction.

General CT contraindications include:

  • pregnancy
  • previous severe reactions to contrast agents
  • claustrophobia
  • uncooperative patients

Mesenteric CT angiography has several advantages over conventional angiography as:

  • it is a minimally invasive procedure
  • low-cost examination
  • takes less time
Arterial pathology: 5
Venous pathology:
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Article information

rID: 32121
Section: Anatomy
Tag: cases
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Multislice CT angiography of splanchnic vessels
  • CT angiography of mesenteric vessles
  • CT mesenteric angiography
  • CT portal vein angiography
  • CT portography

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Cases and figures

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    Case 1: CT angiography of splanchnic arteries
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