Mesenteric ischemia physical examination

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Feham Tariq, MD [2]

Overview

Physical examination of patients with mesenteric ischemia can be normal in early stages or there may be mild abdominal distension in the absence of peritonitis which presents as rebound tenderness and guarding. As the ischemia progresses to involve all the layers of the intestine (transmural infarction), abdomen becomes distended, peritoneal signs develop and bowel sounds become absent. A feculent odor of the breath may also be noticed. Signs of dehydration and shock may also appear if not treated in time.

Physical examination

Appearance of the Patient

  • Patients presenting with acute occlusive mesenteric ischemia are in acute distress while patients with chronic mesenteric ischemia may look malnourished due to sitophobia (fear of eating).

Vital Signs

The following findings are present if the patient presents in a state of shock or hemodyanamic instability:[1]

Skin

  • Pallor is present in patients presenting with shock.

Neck

Heart

Abdomen

Abdominal examination shows the following findings in later stages of ischemia when transmural infarction has occured:[2]

Extremities

References

  1. Carver, Thomas W.; Vora, Ravi S.; Taneja, Amit (2016). "Mesenteric Ischemia". Critical Care Clinics. 32 (2): 155–171. doi:10.1016/j.ccc.2015.11.001. ISSN 0749-0704.
  2. Cudnik, Michael T.; Darbha, Subrahmanyam; Jones, Janice; Macedo, Julian; Stockton, Sherrill W.; Hiestand, Brian C.; Jones, Alan E. (2013). "The Diagnosis of Acute Mesenteric Ischemia: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis". Academic Emergency Medicine. 20 (11): 1087–1100. doi:10.1111/acem.12254. ISSN 1069-6563.

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