Buscar en
Cirugía Española (English Edition)
Toda la web
Inicio Cirugía Española (English Edition) Spontaneous Dissection of the Superior Mesenteric Artery
Journal Information
Vol. 96. Issue 1.
Pages 54-56 (January 2018)
Vol. 96. Issue 1.
Pages 54-56 (January 2018)
Scientific letter
Full text access
Spontaneous Dissection of the Superior Mesenteric Artery
Disección espontánea de arteria mesentérica superior
Aroa Abascal Amo
Corresponding author

Corresponding author.
, Ana Rodríguez Sánchez, Íñigo García Sanz, Francisco Alberto Gimeno Calvo, Jose Luis Martín Álvarez
Servicio de Cirugía General y del Aparato Digestivo, Hospital Universitario de La Princesa, Madrid, Spain
Article information
Full Text
Download PDF
Figures (2)
Full Text

Spontaneous dissection of the superior mesenteric artery (SMA) is a rare disease, with an incidence of 0.06%.1 The SMA is the most common location of isolated dissection and is the second peripheral artery in frequency after the internal carotid artery. The first case was described by Bauersfeld in 1947,2 and the review of the literature has identified only 168 cases sin then.3 It is more frequent in males (4:1) in the fifth decade of life.4 When there is suspicion of abdominal vascular compromise, CT scan is recommended as the initial diagnostic technique, while arteriography is used in patients with worsening symptoms. Anticoagulant treatment is currently the basis of conservative therapy for SMA dissection and is associated with increasingly better results.

We present the case of a 58-year-old male patient with a history of HTN, active smoking and dyslipidemia, who reported very intense abdominal pain over the previous 4h (EVA 10/10). The patient was hemodynamically stable and showed no signs of peritoneal irritation. Lab workup demonstrated leukocytosis and elevated PCR, with no metabolic acidosis.

Abdominal CT scan showed a filling defect in the proximal segment of the SMA, suggestive of a thrombus that lead to stenosis of approximately 60%. There was also a linear defect inside the lumen of the vessel that extended to a jejunal branch, which may have corresponded with a flap associated with the dissection. Adequate distal filling was observed with no signs of intestinal ischemia.

Initially, we opted for a conservative approach with anticoagulant therapy (heparin). The progression of the patient's condition became torpid, with more pain and guarding in the right hemiabdomen. The leukocytosis continued, associated with neutrophilia and mild metabolic acidosis. Given the worsening symptoms, we decided to perform CT angiography, which showed evidence of a small repletion defect at the origin of the ileocolic artery, with distal opacification related with a partially occlusive thrombus. The ileal loops located in the iliac fossa and right flank presented intestinal suffering (Fig. 1). Given the hemodynamic stability, we decided to perform a radiological approach using arteriography of the SMA, where a dissection flap was observed within the first few centimeters, causing obstruction of all the ileal branches, with no evidence of stenosis at the origin (Fig. 2).

Fig. 1.

(A) CT angiography showing evidence of a small filling defect at the origin of the ileocolic artery (white arrow); (B) localized ileal loops with thickened walls suggesting intestinal suffering.

Fig. 2.

Dissection flap in the first few centimeters of the SMA, causing the closure of multiple ileal branches (white arrows).


Endovascular treatment was not considered indicated by the interventional radiology department because of the risk for aggravating the vascular obstruction.

Urgent laparotomy confirmed ischemia of the jejunum, ileum, ascending and transverse colon. Damage control surgery was performed, entailing the resection of 150cm of small intestine and extended right hemicolectomy with no anastomosis or stoma. Revision surgery 48h later involved ileocolic anastomosis in a second phase. The patient's condition progressed satisfactorily, and anticoagulation was maintained for 6 months.

The pathogenesis of spontaneous SMA dissection is uncertain, although some risk factors have been identified, such as cystic medial degeneration, fibromuscular dysplasia, connective tissue diseases, arteriosclerosis, hypertension, abdominal aortic aneurysm and trauma, although it generally occurs in previously healthy patients.5

The mean distance from the SMA ostium to the beginning of the dissection is from 1.5 to 3cm because it is a transition zone between the fixed retropancreatic proximal part of the artery and the relatively mobile more distal part that pivots with the movements of the bowel. It is at this point that an intimal flap is normally formed, which allows blood to enter the interior of the medial layer, causing a longitudinal dissection along the laminar plane of the vessel.6

The most frequent clinical presentation is acute abdominal pain due to intestinal ischemia, intraperitoneal hemorrhage due to rupture of the SMA, or the inflammatory response caused by the dissection itself, stimulating the surrounding visceral nerve plexus.

Modern imaging techniques, such as CT angiography and multidetector CT, provide visualization of the dissected artery and three-dimensional reconstructions, so they are the studies of choice in cases with clinical suspicion. Arteriography would only be indicated in patients with worsening symptoms.7,8

Anticoagulant therapy has now become the mainstay of the conservative therapy of SMA dissection as it is associated with increasingly better results. The control of HTN can reduce hemodynamic turbulences and slow down the progression of the false lumen.9

The majority of patients with incidental findings of isolated SMA dissection can be initially managed conservatively if there are no clinical or radiological signs indicating arterial rupture (such as hypovolemic shock or hemoperitoneum) or intestinal ischemia, maintaining long-term anticoagulation to prevent true thrombosis of the lumen and embolic events.

Patients who present with symptoms of hypovolemic shock or peritonitis should be treated surgically, and there are several surgical options: 1) bowel resection; 2) simple arteriotomy with thrombectomy or endarterectomy; 3) resection of the affected arterial segment with interposition of a graft; 4) re-implantation of the SMA in the aorta; and 5) bypass to the gastroepiploic artery.

The use of minimally invasive techniques, such as endovascular management with the use of percutaneous stent placement, has become increasingly common, with good clinical results. This technique, whenever technically possible, is postulated as a safe and feasible therapeutic alternative to restore blood flow to the small intestine. It is especially indicated in symptomatic patients with high perioperative risk and no signs of intestinal ischemia or hemoperitoneum, and patients should always be closely followed up.10

A.M. Quintana Rivera, L. Ganzarain Valiente, C.E. Ávila Puerta, A. Arruabarrena Oyarbide, J.L. Fonseca Legrand.
Manejo conservador de tres casos de disección espontánea de la arteria mesentérica superior.
Angiologia, 64 (2012), pp. 7-12
V.C. Hunt.
Surgical management of carcinoma of the ampulla of Vater and of the periampullary portion of the duodenum.
Ann Surg, 114 (1941), pp. 570-602
M.J. Ansari, N. Panten, S.S.Y.A. Tulpule.
A rare cause of acute abdomen: spontaneous dissection of the superior mesenteric.
Clin Case Rep, 11 (2016), pp. 1034-1037
L. Saba, R. Sanfilippo, M. Atzeni, D. Ribuffo, R. Montisci, G. Mallarini.
Superior mesenteric artery spontaneous and isolated dissection diagnosed by using MDCTA.
Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci, 14 (2010), pp. 8-235
S. Baldi, T. Zander, M. Rabellino, M. Maynar.
Endovascular management of a spontaneous dissecting aneurysm of the superior mesenteric artery: case report and discussion of treatment options.
Ann Vasc Surg, 23 (2009), pp. 535.e1-535.e4
G. Lamprecht, T. Trabold, M. Gregor, R. Lamberts.
Spontaneous, self-limited, non atherosclerotic dissection of the superior mesenteric artery.
Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol, 15 (2003), pp. 437-439
M.R. Sun, D.D. Brennan, J.B. Kruskal, R.A. Kane.
Intraoperative ultrasonography of the pancreas.
Radiographics, 30 (2010), pp. 53-1935
R. Carter, S. O’Keeffe, D.J. Minion, E.E. Sorial, E.D. Endean, E.S. Xenos.
Spontaneous superior mesenteric artery dissection: report of 2 patients and review of management recommendations.
Vasc Endovascular Surg, 45 (2011), pp. 8-295
Y.P. Cho, G.Y. Ko, H.K. Kim, K.M. Moon, T.W. Kwon.
Conservative management of symptomatic spontaneous isolated dissection of the superior mesenteric artery.
Br J Surg, 96 (2009), pp. 720-723
P. Froment, M. Alerci, R.E. Vandoni, M. Bogen, P. Gertsch, G. Galeazzi.
Stenting of a spontaneous dissection of the superior mesenteric artery: a new therapeutic approach?.
Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol, 27 (2004), pp. 529-532

Please cite this article as: Abascal Amo A, Rodríguez Sánchez A, García Sanz Í, Gimeno Calvo FA, Martín Álvarez JL. Disección espontánea de arteria mesentérica superior. Cir Esp. 2018;96:54–56

Copyright © 2017. AEC
Article options
es en pt

¿Es usted profesional sanitario apto para prescribir o dispensar medicamentos?

Are you a health professional able to prescribe or dispense drugs?

Você é um profissional de saúde habilitado a prescrever ou dispensar medicamentos