Intestinal angioedema

Intestinal angioedema is edema into the submucosal space of the bowel wall following protein extravasation from "leaky" vessels. It can affect both the small and large bowel.

Patients often present with non-specific findings of abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.

There are three main types of intestinal angioedema:

  • hereditary deficiency of C1-inhibitor enzyme
  • acquired deficiency of C1-inhibitor enzyme (associated with B-cell lymphoproliferative disorders and autoimmune disease)
  • medications
    • angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEi) 3
      • especially enalapril and lisinopril 
    • angiotensin II receptor blockers
    • calcium channel blockers 4

The exact mechanism of angioedema in the bowel is not completely understood, but it is thought to involve bradykinin pathways and subsequent vasodilation (instead of histamine pathways) during acute periods.

  • bowel changes
    • long segment concentric thickening of the bowel submucosa
    • mural stratification
    • straightening of bowel loops
    • no obstruction
  • mild mesenteric edema
  • ascites
  • no lymphadenopathy

In cases of medication-induced angioedema, removal of the offending agent usually results in complete resolution.

Article information

rID: 37571
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Small bowel angioedema
  • Colon angioedema

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: hereditary angioedema
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  • Case 2: ACE-inhibitor related
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  • Case 3: ACE-inhibitor related
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  • Case 4: ACE-inhibitor related
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