Non-occlusive mesenteric ischemia

Last revised by Henry Knipe on 15 Apr 2020

Non-occlusive mesenteric ischemia is the second most common cause of acute mesenteric ischemia, with a higher incidence in hospitalized and critical care patients. 

Non-occlusive mesenteric ischemia accounts for ~25% (range 20-30%) of acute mesenteric ischemia. It most commonly affects patients >50 years 3

Non-occlusive mesenteric ischemia occurs without arterial or venous occlusion in the region of bowel ischemia/infarction 1

Systemic hypoperfusion from numerous causes 2,3:

  • cardiac disease (e.g. myocardial infarction)
  • systemic hypotension (e.g. cardiogenic, septic, or hemorrhagic shock) resulting in shock bowel
  • blunt abdominal trauma
  • hypotension following dialysis 
  • cardiac or major abdominal surgery

Medication-induced mesenteric vasospasm (e.g. vasoconstriction from digitalis, amphetamines, cocaine, vasopressin) can also be a cause 2.

Features of bowel ischemia may be present and the affected bowel may be in watershed areas. CT angiography can show mesenteric arterial narrowing and reduced superior mesenteric artery caliber 2-4

Features of CT hypoperfusion complex may also be present and evaluation of extra-intestinal viscera is important 2

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