CT diagnosis of mesenteric adenitis

P M Rao, J T Rhea, R A Novelline
Radiology 1997, 202 (1): 145-9

PURPOSE: To quantify how frequently mesenteric adenitis clinically mimics appendicitis and to determine its appearance at computed tomography (CT).

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The medical records of 651 consecutive patients with an admission diagnosis of appendicitis were reviewed to determine how often mesenteric adenitis was the discharge diagnosis. The CT scans of a separate group of 18 patients with a discharge diagnosis of mesenteric adenitis were reviewed. These patients were part of a group of 100 consecutive patients prospectively evaluated with CT of the appendix for clinically suspected appendicitis.

RESULTS: Fifty of 651 patients (7.7%) with an admission diagnosis of appendicitis had a discharge diagnosis of mesenteric adenitis. Mesenteric adenitis constituted 50 of the 252 (19.8%) discharge diagnoses other than appendicitis. All 18 CT scans of mesenteric adenitis showed three or more nodes that measured at least 5 mm in shortest axis clustered in the right lower quadrant, with a normal appendix identified. Eight patients had associated ileal or ileocecal wall thickening.

CONCLUSION: Mesenteric adenitis is an important clinical mimic of appendicitis. It appears at CT as clustered, enlarged mesenteric lymph nodes with a normal appendix, and there may be associated ileitis or ileocolitis noted.

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