Intestinal ischemia and infarction is damage to (ischemia) or death of (infarction) part of the intestine. It is due to a decrease in the blood supply to the area.
There are several possible causes of intestinal ischemia and infarction.
The main symptoms of intestinal ischemia is abdominal pain. Other symptoms include:
Laboratory tests may show a high white blood cell (WBC) count (a marker of infection) and increased acid in the bloodstream. There may be bleeding in the GI tract.
Other tests include:
These tests do not always diagnose the problem. Sometimes, the only sure way to diagnose intestinal ischemia is with a surgical procedure.
In most cases, the condition needs to be treated with surgery. The section of intestine that has died is removed, and the healthy remaining ends of the bowel are reconnected.
In some cases, a colostomy or ileostomy is needed. The blockage of arteries to the intestine is corrected, if possible.
Intestinal ischemia is a serious condition that can result in death if not treated promptly. The outlook depends on the cause. Prompt treatment can lead to a good outcome.
Intestinal infarction may require a colostomy or ileostomy, which may be short-term or permanent. Peritonitis is common in these cases. People who have a large amount of tissue death in the intestine can have problems absorbing nutrients. They can become dependent on intravenous nutrition.
Some people may become severely ill with fever and a bloodstream infection (sepsis).
Call your health care provider if you have any severe abdominal pain.
Preventive measures include:
Intestinal necrosis; Ischemic bowel; Dead bowel; Dead gut
Hauser SC. Vascular diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 145.
Updated by: Todd Eisner, MD, Private practice specializing in Gastroenterology, Boca Raton, FL. Affiliate Assistant Professor, Florida Atlantic University School of Medicine. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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