Widespread abdominal ischemia

Case contributed by Dr Michael P Hartung


Abdominal pain.

Patient Data

Age: 75 years
Gender: Male

Common origin of the SMA and celiac trunk. The celiac artery is completely occluded at the origin. The SMA is occluded at the level of the pancreatic uncinate process.

Irregular plaque in the aorta at the level of the diaphragmatic hiatus.

Large amount of free intraperitoneal spillage of oral contrast due to duodenal perforation.

Hypoenhacement of the liver, with some sparing of the right hepatic lobe. Whispy flow in the central hepatic arteries.

Spleen appears completely infarcted (nonehancing, surrounded by oral contrast).

Increased enhancement of the right adrenal. Decreased enhancement of the left adrenal.

Decreased enhancement of the pancreatic body and tail (compare to the head).

Small renal infarcts, L>R.

Submucosal edema in the stomach through duodenal bulb.

Hypoenhancement of several loops of small bowel in the lower abdomen/pelvis.

Peritonitis with peritoneal thickening/enhancing, and increased enhancement of several small bowel loops in the mid abdomen.

Abnormal thickening and enhancement of the colon (IMA is small and looks narrowed near the origin).

Free intraperitoneal air. Ascites. Bladder wall thickening.

Case Discussion

Very challenging case with an overwhelming number of abnormal findings. The large amount of free intraperitoneal contrast is the major distractor from the true abnormality, and may lead you to attribute the findings to duodenal perforation alone.

The key to understanding the case is to review the vascular anatomy. The celiac and SMA share a common origin, and celiac artery is completely occluded at it's origin. The SMA occludes near the pancreatic head after giving off a few tiny pancreaticoduodenal branches. The IMA does not look acutely occluded, but is severely narrowed near the origin.

This results in ischemia of the entire abdomen:

  • liver: portions of the right hepatic lobe relatively spared due to collateral flow from inferior pancreaticoduodenal collaterals supplying whispy flow to the GDA and hepatic arteries; caudate and left hepatic lobe hypoenhancing/ischemic
  • pancreas: head is supplied by inferior PD from SMA and enhances normally; body and tail are supplied by pancreatic branches of the splenic artery and are therefore ischemic
  • spleen: small and completely infarcted; this is hard to appreciate at first because it is surrounded by dense oral contrast.
  • kidneys: small embolic infarcts, left worse than right
  • adrenals: left adrenal is hypoenhancing likely related to occlusion of the suprarenal artery; right adrenal hyperenhancing, possible due to shock.
  • stomach and duodenal bulb: ischemic due to occlusion of the gastric and gastroepipfrom splenic, and reliance on collateral inferior PD arcade flow to supply the GDA
  • jejunum: relatively spared likely due to small jejunal or collateral branches of the SMA before it becomes occluded; they have typical findings of peritonitis or shock bowel
  • ileum: ischemic and hypoehancing, blending in with the ascites due to SMA occlusion
  • colon: areas of variable thickening, submucosal edema, and hyperenhancement, which likely is a combination of ischemia and peritonitis/shock bowel
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Case information

rID: 68224
Published: 24th May 2019
Last edited: 28th Oct 2019
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included
Institution: Tenwek Hospital

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