This can be the result of many pathologies and can be acute or chronic.


Common causes

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Embolism
  • Dissection
  • External compression by mass lesions
  • Fibromuscular dysplasia – non-artherosclerotic, non-inflammatory arterial changes

Common sites of occlusion

  • Splanchnic arteries
    • Superior mesenteric
    • Coeliac arteries – often occurs chronically in women
    • Renal arteries
  • Bifurcation of the aorta

Signs and symptoms


  • Severe, diffuse abdominal pain
  • Rarely involves the liver or spleen
  • Renal artery occlusion:


  • Is often symptomless, unless both the superioer mesenteric and coeliac arteries are occluded, due to large collateral circulation between these two arterial systems
  • Intestinal Angina is the most common symptom. This is a cramping pain typically felt 20-60 minutes after eating. Can be relieved by sublingual GTN.
  • Patients often lose weight as they develop a fear of eating
  • Abdominal bruit may be heard
  • Other signs include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation and dark stools
  • Renal artery occlusion:



  • Based mainly on clinical findings
  • Angiography may be useful
  • In severe cases, bypass surgery can be beneficial, but outcomes vary.
  • Angioplasty is also sometimes helpful both with and without stenting
  • Some patients may be put on preventative measures and antiplatelet agents


  • Surgical emergency
  • Requires thrombolysis or Percutaneous intervention to prevent gut necrosis.
  • Outcomes are poor, particularly if >4-6hours after onset

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