Chronic splanchnic ischaemia

Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2001 Feb;15(1):99-119. doi: 10.1053/bega.2001.0158.


Chronic splanchnic ischaemia is a relatively unusual clinical entity consisting of pain and/or weight loss and caused by chronic splanchnic disease (i.e. stenosis and/or occlusion of the coeliac and superior mesenteric artery). The occlusive disease is usually caused by atherosclerosis and is in itself not rare in older individuals. Extensive collateral circulation can develop between the three splanchnic arteries and may compensate for the decreased splanchnic perfusion over time. The pathophysiology of chronic splanchnic ischaemia has still not been completely elucidated.A reliable diagnosis of chronic splanchnic ischaemia, based on a proven causal relationship between the occlusive disease and the symptoms, can be very difficult. Traditionally, tests for evaluating the haemodynamic consequences of the vascular stenoses were not available. Important improvements in establishing a more reliable diagnosis have been achieved with duplex ultrasound and magnetic resonance evaluation of the splanchnic circulation. Tonometry is another promising functional test that may prove useful not only for gaining greater insight into the pathophysiology of chronic splanchnic ischaemia but also for the clinical evaluation of this syndrome. The natural history of chronic splanchnic disease suggests that progressive disease may result in acute mesenteric ischaemia. Surgical reconstruction of the coeliac and/or the superior mesenteric artery is the therapeutic standard with excellent short and long-term results. Satisfactory early results using angioplasty with or without stent suggest that this type of intervention may relieve symptoms in selected patients with a higher surgical risk.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiography
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / diagnosis
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / surgery
  • Chronic Disease
  • Digestive System / blood supply*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ischemia / diagnosis*
  • Ischemia / surgery*
  • Mesenteric Arteries / diagnostic imaging
  • Mesenteric Arteries / physiopathology
  • Prognosis
  • Splanchnic Circulation*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures / methods