What is visceral artery disease?

Visceral artery disease is the narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the intestines, spleen and liver. The narrowing, caused by atherosclerosis, results in a reduction in blood flow to these organs. Atherosclerosis is the hardening of the arteries due to the build-up of plaque, fatty deposits that adhere to the artery wall.

The most common presentation of visceral artery disease is chronic mesenteric ischemia, insufficient blood-flow to the intestines. It causes pain after eating and results in weight loss. It can also result in a fatal interruption of blood-flow to the intestines. Without proper flow, the intestines may begin to die and become gangrenous. This condition requires immediate diagnosis and emergency treatment. (See intestinal ischemic syndromes.)