Superior Mesenteric Artery Syndrome: A Worldwide Descriptive Study with Literature Review
Background: Superior mesenteric artery syndrome is best described as compression of the third part of duodenum by the superior mesenteric artery, resulting in obstruction. This rare condition has been studied for decades yet remains obscure. This study aimed to analyze different clinical presentations, diagnostic modalities, treatment approaches and outcomes of this condition.
Methods: Thirty-five superior mesenteric artery syndrome cases were collected retrospectively from a Facebook group called “Superior Mesenteric Artery Syndrome Awareness & Support”. A questionnaire was designed using Google Forms to obtain the demographics, presenting symptoms, risk factors and co-morbidities, investigations, means of treatment and the outcomes. Data was entered into Microsoft Office Excel for statistical analysis.
Results: The median age at diagnosis was 22 years. The median body mass index was 20.8 kg/m2. The median time interval from symptom onset to initial diagnosis was 22 months. The major presenting symptoms were abdominal pain (82.9%), nausea (77.1%), and vomiting (65.7%). Abdominal computed tomography scan with contrast (82.9%) was commonly used for confirmation of diagnosis. Thirteen cases (37.1%) were congenital. Thirty patients (85.7%) had received treatment. The overall management success was only 13.3%. Surgical management (34.3%) was the most commonly used regimen.
Conclusion: Diagnosis of superior mesenteric artery syndrome is established after a thorough assessment of the clinical presentations and confirmed with suitable imaging modalities. The choice of treatment should be dependent on the causes and severity as different patients respond differently to therapy. Recurrence is possible in all patients, and a long-term follow up is thus required.
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