Ischemic injury to the gastrointestinal tract can threaten bowel viability with potential catastrophic consequences, including intestinal necrosis and gangrene. The presenting symptoms and signs are relatively nonspecific and diagnosis requires a high index of clinical suspicion. AMI often results from an embolus or thrombus within the SMA, although a low-flow state through an area of profound atherosclerosis may also induce severe ischemia. Because most laboratory and radiologic studies are nonspecific in early ischemia an aggressive approach to diagnosis with imaging of the splanchnic vasculature by mesenteric angiography is advocated. Various therapeutic approaches, including the infusion of vasodilators and thrombolytics, may then be used. Proper diagnosis and management of patients with AMI requires vigilance and a readiness to pursue an aggressive course of action.
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