Mesenteric Adenitis: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Causes & Treatment

Updated in April 2024

Mesenteric adenitis is an inflammation of the lymph nodes in the mesentery, which is connected to the intestine. This swelling can be the result of a bacterial or viral infection, and causes severe right abdominal pain, similar to that of appendicitis.

Generally, mesenteric adenitis is not serious, and is more common in children under 5 years of age and young adults under 25 years of age. It typically goes away after the intestinal infection resolves, and usually does not require treatment.

Symptoms of mesenteric adenitis can last days or weeks, however, they can be easily managed with simple measures, like rest and over-the-counter medications.

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Main symptoms

The most common symptoms of mesenteric adenitis are:

  • Severe abdominal pain in the lower right side of the belly;
  • Fever above 38º C;
  • Feeling of discomfort;
  • Weight loss;
  • Vomiting and diarrhea.

In rarer cases, mesenteric adenitis may not cause symptoms and is only diagnosed during routine examinations, like an abdominal ultrasound. In these cases, even though the patient does not present with any symptoms, it is necessary to identify the underlying cause to ensure adequate treatment.

Confirming a diagnosis

A diagnosis for mesenteric adenitis is confirmed by a gastroenterologist or general practitioner, and is based on a symptoms and results from imaging tests, like an MRI or CT scan.

In some cases, the doctor may also request a stool culture to investigate whether a microorganism is causing this condition. Identifying the microorganism will also help to guide the most appropriate treatment.

Possible causes

Mesenteric adenitis is mainly caused by viral or bacterial infections, and is most often associated with Yersinia enterocolitica bacteria. These microorganisms  enter the body and promote inflammation of the mesentery ganglia, causing fever and abdominal pain.

Additionally, mesenteric adenitis can also result from diseases such as lymphoma or inflammatory bowel disease.

Treatment options

Treatment for mesenteric adenitis in adults should be directed by a gastroenterologist or general practitioner, while cases in children should be monitored by a pediatrician.

Mesenteric adenitis caused by a a viral infection can be treated with analgesic and anti-inflammatory medications, like as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. These can help to manage symptoms, like fever and discomfort, until the body eliminates the virus.

Cases caused by bacterial infections may require antibiotics, which can be combined with other medications, to manage symptoms.

Be sure to check-out home remedies for intestinal infections that you can also take to speed-up recovery.