A clinical approach to acute mesenteric ischemia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To summarize current evidence on acute mesenteric ischemia (AMI) in critically ill patients, addressing pathophysiology, definition, diagnosis and management.

RECENT FINDINGS: A few recent studies showed that a multidiscipliary approach in specialized centers can improve the outcome of AMI. Such approach incorporates current knowledge in pathophysiology, early diagnosis with triphasic computed tomography (CT)-angiography, immediate endovascular or surgical restoration of mesenteric perfusion, and damage control surgery if transmural bowel infarction is present. No specific biomarkers are available to detect early mucosal injury in clinical setting. Nonocclusive mesenteric ischemia presents particular challenges, as the diagnosis based on CT-findings as well as vascular management is more difficult; some recent evidence suggests a possible role of potentially treatable stenosis of superior mesenteric artery and beneficial effect of vasodilator therapy (intravenous or local intra-arterial). Medical management of AMI is supportive, including aiming of euvolemia and balanced systemic oxygen demand/delivery. Enteral nutrition should be withheld during ongoing ischemia-reperfusion injury and be started at low rate after revascularization of the (remaining) bowel is convincingly achieved.

SUMMARY: Clinical suspicion leading to tri-phasic CT-angiography is a mainstay for diagnosis. Diagnosis of nonocclusive mesenteric ischemia and early intestinal injury remains challenging. Multidisciplinary team effort may improve the outcome of AMI.


External organisations
  • University of Tartu
  • Cantonal Hospital Lucerne
  • King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-192
JournalCurrent Opinion in Critical Care
Issue number2
Early online date2020 Dec 30
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication categoryResearch