Small bowel infarction

Case contributed by RMH Core Conditions


Small bowel vasculitis. Now increasing abdominal pain, vomiting ?small bowel ischaemia.

Patient Data

Age: 70
Gender: Female


There is a long segment (approximately 30cm) of infarcted distal small intestine evidenced by lack of mucosal enhancement and florid pneumatosis intestinalis. No perforation. No definite focal vascular occlusion is seen. No evidence of large vessel vasculitis seen. Multiple loops of prominent fluid-filled small intestine are seen, but there is no evidence of intestinal obstruction. There are 2 short segments of proximal small intestine circumferential mucosal thickening along the left flank . There is mottled attenuation of the spleen, with extensive areas of non-enhancement, in keeping with large regions of infarct, substantially progressed compared to the previous study.


Distal small intestinal infarct, as above. No perforation or collection seen. Large multifocal splenic infarcts, substantially progressed. Short segment small intestinal mucosal thickening, non-specific, possibly inflammatory. No macro-vascular abnormality seen. Changes in the liver, kidneys and spleen consistent with microinfarctions.

Annotated image

Yellow arrow indicates infarcted bowel loop demonstrating pneumatosis intestinalis and non-enhancing bowel wall. 

Case Discussion

The patient proceeded to laparotomy and small bowel resection.


Small bowel resection: Haemorrhagic ischaemic necrosis. Many abnormal arteries in the mesentery, consistent with chronic stage of healed vasculitis. Viable resection margins.

Comment: Most of the arteries show features consistent with chronic stage of healed vasculitis. No necrotising vasculitis or granulomas are seen. There are occasional vessels showing slightly more active lymphocytic vasculitis. The overall appearances are not specific regarding the vasculitis subtype. However, given the history of hepatitis B with high serum titre, hepatitis B-associated polyarteritis nodosa is a definite possibility.

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Case information

rID: 27601
Published: 10th Feb 2014
Last edited: 6th Jun 2017
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included

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