Chronic mesenteric ischemia: Clinical practice guidelines from the Society for Vascular Surgery

Thomas S Huber, Martin Björck, Ankur Chandra, W Darrin Clouse, Michael C Dalsing, Gustavo S Oderich, Matthew R Smeds, M Hassan Murad
Journal of Vascular Surgery 2021, 73 (1S): 87S-115S

BACKGROUND: Chronic mesenteric ischemia (CMI) results from the inability to achieve adequate postprandial intestinal blood flow, usually from atherosclerotic occlusive disease at the origins of the mesenteric vessels. Patients typically present with postprandial pain, food fear, and weight loss, although they can present with acute mesenteric ischemia and bowel infarction. The diagnosis requires a combination of the appropriate clinical symptoms and significant mesenteric artery occlusive disease, although it is often delayed given the spectrum of gastrointestinal disorders associated with abdominal pain and weight loss. The treatment goals include relieving the presenting symptoms, preventing progression to acute mesenteric ischemia, and improving overall quality of life. These practice guidelines were developed to provide the best possible evidence for the diagnosis and treatment of patients with CMI from atherosclerosis.

METHODS: The Society for Vascular Surgery established a committee composed of vascular surgeons and individuals experienced with evidence-based reviews. The committee focused on six specific areas, including the diagnostic evaluation, indications for treatment, choice of treatment, perioperative evaluation, endovascular/open revascularization, and surveillance/remediation. A formal systematic review was performed by the evidence team to identify the optimal technique for revascularization. Specific practice recommendations were developed using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation system based on review of literature, the strength of the data, and consensus.

RESULTS: Patients with symptoms consistent with CMI should undergo an expedited workup, including a computed tomography arteriogram, to exclude other potential causes. The diagnosis is supported by significant arterial occlusive disease in the mesenteric vessels, particularly the superior mesenteric artery. Treatment requires revascularization with the primary target being the superior mesenteric artery. Endovascular revascularization with a balloon-expandable covered intraluminal stent is the recommended initial treatment with open repair reserved for select younger patients and those who are not endovascular candidates. Long-term follow-up and surveillance are recommended after revascularization and for asymptomatic patients with severe mesenteric occlusive disease. Patient with recurrent symptoms after revascularization owing to recurrent stenoses should be treated with an endovascular-first approach, similar to the de novo lesion.

CONCLUSIONS: These practice guidelines were developed based on the best available evidence. They should help to optimize the care of patients with CMI. Multiple areas for future research were identified.

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