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Mesenteric Lymphadenitis

Definition


Disease: Mesenteric Lymphadenitis Mesenteric Lymphadenitis
Category: Digestive diseases
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Disease Definition:

The collections of cells that play a key role in the body's ability to fight off illness are the lymph nodes. When the lymph nodes found in a membrane that attaches the intestine to the abdominal wall (mesentery) become inflamed, usually as a result of an intestinal infection, mesenteric lymphadenitis occurs.

Mesenteric lymphadenitis occurs mainly in children and teens, and it often mimics the signs and symptoms of appendicitis. However, mesenteric lymphadenitis is seldom serious and clears on its own in a few days or weeks, which make it different from appendicitis.

In healthy children who have no symptoms, mesenteric lymphadenitis can also occur. Swollen lymph nodes are found on imaging tests for another problem in these cases. Mesenteric lymphadenitis that doesn't cause symptoms isn't a concern and rarely needs further evaluation.

Work Group:


Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes

Symptoms:

Signs and symptoms of mesenteric lymphadenitis may last as long as a few weeks or a few days. The following symptoms are included:

 

  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain, often centered on the lower, right side, but the pain can sometimes be more widespread


Other signs and symptoms may include the following, depending on what's causing the ailment:

 

  • Malaise, which is a general feeling of being unwell
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea


It can be hard to know when it's a problem that needs medical attention as abdominal pain is common in children and teens. Generally, parents should call the doctor right away if their child has sudden, severe abdominal pain or pain with fever, bloody diarrhea or vomiting, and in the case when mild symptoms don't get better in about 5 days.

Causes:

In the body's ability to fight off illness, the lymph nodes play a vital role. Scattered throughout the body, approximately 600 nodes trap and destroy bacteria, viruses and other harmful organisms. The nodes closest to the infection can become sore and swollen in the process; for example, the lymph nodes in the neck may swell when one has a sore throat. Some of the other nodes that commonly swell are found in the groin, armpits and under the chin.  

There are also lymph nodes in the mesentery, which is the thin tissue that attaches the intestine to the abdominal wall, although this is less well known. A viral infection such as gastroenteritis, commonly known as stomach flu, is the most common cause of swollen mesenteric nodes. Infection with yersinia bacteria, which may come from drinking unpasteurized milk or contaminated water or eating undercooked pork, may also result in mesenteric lymphadenitis.

Before or during a bout of mesenteric lymphadenitis, some children develop an upper respiratory infection; and experts think that there may be a link between the two.

With or without symptoms, mesenteric lymphadenitis is most common in children and adolescents. Additionally, young boys are more likely than girls to be affected by this condition.

Complications

Complications:

Mesenteric lymphadenitis rarely causes complications and it usually goes away on its own. However, the bacteria could conceivably spread to the bloodstream, causing a potentially life-threatening infection (sepsis) in case the swollen lymph nodes are caused by a serious bacterial infection that isn't treated.

Treatments:

Within a few days or weeks, mild, uncomplicated cases of mesenteric lymphadenitis and those caused by a virus usually go away on their own. Over-the-counter pain relievers and fever reducers may help ease discomfort. However, in the cases of moderate to severe bacterial infections, antibiotics may be prescribed.

Prognosis:

Not Available

Expert's opinion

Expert's Name:
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