Ischemic Bowel Disease

Ischemia, the noun for ischemic, means a low oxygen state due to inadequate blood flow. Bowel refers to the small and large intestine. Ischemic bowel disease results from inadequate flow of oxygenated blood to the intestines. The extent of ischemic bowel disease can range from mild to severe based on the amount of damage from lack of oxygenated blood. This is a potentially serious condition and requires care from your doctor. The sooner ischemic bowel disease is treated, the more favorable the outcome. Contact your doctor if you think you may have ischemic bowel disease.

  • Causes


    Ischemic bowel disease occurs when an artery that supplies blood becomes blocked or narrowed. There are several possible causes of ischemic bowel disease, including:

    • Blockage in the arteries due to a tumor or blood clot

    • Narrowing of the arteries supplying blood to the bowel
      from
      atherosclerosis
    • Obstruction in the colon (large intestine)

  • Definition

    Ischemia, the noun for ischemic, means a low oxygen state due to inadequate blood flow. Bowel refers to the small and large intestine.

    Ischemic bowel disease results from inadequate flow of oxygenated blood to the intestines. The extent of ischemic bowel disease can range from mild to severe based on the amount of damage from lack of oxygenated blood. This is a potentially serious condition and requires care from your doctor. The sooner ischemic bowel disease is treated, the more favorable the outcome. Contact your doctor if you think you may have ischemic bowel disease.

    The Intestines
    IMAGE
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. If ischemic bowel disease is suspected, you will most likely be referred to a specialist for further evaluation and treatment.


    Tests may include the following:

    • X-ray of abdomen
    • CT Scan
      or
      MRI of the abdomen
    • Colonoscopy
      —a procedure where a long flexible tube is inserted through the rectum to inspect the colon and rectum.
    • Angiography
      —an x-ray test used to view the arteries supplying the bowel

  • Prevention


    To help reduce your chances of developing ischemic bowel disease, take the following steps:

    • Stay well hydrated.
    • Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease through regular exercise and a balanced diet low in fat and calories.
    • Consume plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and fiber, which may reduce your risk of colon cancer.

  • Risk Factors


    A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.

    The following factors increase your chances of developing ischemic bowel disease:

    • Advanced age
    • Shock induced by conditions such as blood stream infection and blood loss

    • Recent
      heart attack
    • Sustained abnormal heart beat
    • Congestive heart failure
    • Peripheral vascular disease
    • Coronary artery bypass surgery
      or other vascular surgeries
    • Colon cancer
    • Certain medications that cause arteries to narrow
    • Diabetes
    • Hemodialysis
    • Sickle cell disease
    • Dehydration
    • Pregnancy

  • Symptoms


    If you experience any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to ischemic bowel disease. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. If you have the following symptoms, see your physician.

    • Cramping and abdominal pain
    • Bloody stools
    • Frequent urge to defecate
    • Diarrhea
    • Nausea
      or vomiting
    • Abdominal distension

  • Treatment

    Treatment options depend on the severity of the ischemia and include the following: