What Is Mesenteric Venous Thrombosis?
Mesenteric venous thrombosis occurs when a blood clot forms in
one or more of the major veins that drain blood from your intestines. This
condition is rare, but it can lead to life-threatening complications without prompt
There are three veins that carry blood from the intestines:
- the superior mesenteric vein
- the inferior mesenteric vein
- the splenic vein
These veins deliver nutrient-rich blood to the liver through the
hepatic portal vein. A clot in any of these veins blocks blood flow to the
intestines, which can lead to damage and tissue death.
Symptoms of Mesenteric Venous Thrombosis
The symptoms of mesenteric venous thrombosis typically include
abdominal pain (especially after eating), bloating, and diarrhea. Additional
Make an appointment with your doctor if you repeatedly experience
abdominal pain or any of these symptoms. Delaying treatment can lead to serious
Causes of Mesenteric Venous Thrombosis
Certain digestive diseases that cause swelling of the tissues
surrounding the intestines can increase your risk of developing mesenteric
venous thrombosis. These conditions include:
to your abdomen
disorders that make your blood more prone to clotting, such as Factor V Leiden
thrombophilia, which is an inherited clotting disorder
infections, such as appendicitis
bowel diseases, such as diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease
of the pancreas, which is called pancreatitis
disease and cirrhosis, which is scarring of the liver
of the digestive system
It can also be caused by trauma to the abdomen or cancers of the
digestive system. You’re also at an increased risk for developing blood clots
if you use hormone therapies or take birth control pills. Smoking also
increases your risk of blood clots.
Diagnosing Mesenteric Venous Thrombosis
Diagnosis is usually based on your symptoms and imaging tests. Typically,
a CT scan is used. This test uses X-rays to create cross-sectional images of
the abdomen. Other imaging tests may include an ultrasound or MRI scan of the
abdomen. This test utilizes high-powered magnets and radio waves to create
images of the abdomen.
An arteriogram, which is an X-ray of the arteries, may be done to
see how blood is moving through your arteries. It may also help determine the
location of a blood clot. For this test, a doctor will inject a special dye
into your arteries and then take X-rays of your abdomen. The dye will appear in
the images, allowing your doctor to identify any areas with damage or
Treating Mesenteric Venous Thrombosis
Blood thinners are the main treatment for this condition. If you
have a blood clotting disorder, you may need to take blood thinners
In some cases, such as when a blood clot is discovered in the
portal or mesenteric veins, blood thinners can be delivered directly to the
clot through a procedure called thrombolysis. This process involves using a flexible
tube called a catheter that’s inserted into your vein. Your doctor will use
X-ray images to position the catheter within the clot and then inject a
blood-thinning medication to dissolve it.
In rare cases, the clot is removed in a surgical procedure called
thrombectomy. This is similar to a thrombolysis, but the catheter isn’t used to
inject blood thinner. Instead, it’s used to pull the clot from the vein.
Complications of Mesenteric Venous Thrombosis
Mesenteric venous thrombosis can decrease the supply of blood to the
tissues and cells of your digestive system. This is called ischemia. It causes
intestinal damage or the death of intestinal tissue, which is called
infarction. It can be life-threatening, and it requires emergency
medical attention. If death of part of the intestine occurs, the dead portion
of the intestine must be surgically removed.
Peritonitis is a severe infection of the peritoneum that can
result from a mesenteric venous thrombosis. The peritoneum is the thin membrane
that lines the abdominal wall and covers the organs inside the abdomen. If this
occurs, you’ll need surgery to remove the affected areas of your intestine.
Surgery may require resection of the affected bowel. If that’s the case, your
body’s waste products will be collected in an ileostomy or a colostomy
afterward. An ileostomy is a bag placed on the skin over an opening from the small
intestine. A colostomy is a bag placed on the skin over an opening from the
Outlook for People with Mesenteric Venous Thrombosis
Your outlook will depend on many factors, including any
underlying health conditions and how quickly you start treatment.
Always contact your doctor if you have severe stomach pain along
with fever, diarrhea, and vomiting.