Mesenteric Arteries

Why am I having this ultrasound examination?

The mesenteric artery scan is a non-invasive method of checking the arteries that supply blood to your intestine. Your doctor has requested this examination because you may have one or more of the following presentations:

  • upper abdominal pain after eating
  • a ‘bruit’ or whistling sound heard by doctor when examining your abdomen with a stethoscope
  • previous surgery or endovascular treatment (stent or angioplasty) of the mesenteric artery

What arteries will be checked in this examination?

  • Hepatic Artery
  • Coeliac Trunk
  • Splenic Artery
  • Renal Artery
  • Superior Mesenteric Artery
  • Aorta
  • Inferior Mesenteric Artery

What happens during the examination?

Because the arteries in your abdomen lie underneath the large intestine (bowel), dietary preparation is required for this examination. The purpose of this is to reduce gas in the bowel which can interfere with adequate penetration of ultrasound to the depth of the arteries. This preparation will be explained to you in more detail when you are making your appointment and will vary depending on whether or not you have diabetes.

The mesenteric artery ultrasound scan is performed with you lying on an examination couch so you should be quite comfortable. In order for the sonographer to easily access the abdominal arteries, you will be asked to remove your footwear, and the outer clothing from your abdomen. It is helpful if you do not wear tight underclothing, such as ‘step-ins’ or corsets. The sonographer will ask you for a short medical history and, if appropriate, for a brief description of any recent symptoms. The sonographer will place some gel on the skin overlying the arterial anatomy to be assessed.

Depending on the size of your abdomen, you will feel the firm pressure from the transducer as it runs along the course of the blood vessels, and you will hear the sound of the Doppler from time to time, but there should be no major discomfort. You may be required to roll a little from side to side, so better views of the arteries can be obtained. You may be asked to go away and have something to eat and drink, returning 20 minutes later for a further short scan. If you do have any questions or concerns, please ask at any time during the test.

How long will the examination take?

Scanning of the mesenteric arteries may take up to 45 minutes for the first part and 10 minutes if you need to return after having something to eat and drink.

When will I get my results?

The sonographer does not usually give you your results at the time of your examination, however your doctor will receive your scan results within 2 days. If you have an appointment already booked with your referring doctor, please advise the sonographer at the time of your scan. Urgent results are always sent back to your doctor within 24 hours.

Download the Patient Information Brochure