Postprandial Abdominal Pain

What Is Postprandial Abdominal Pain?

Postprandial Abdominal Pain also known as Abdominal Angina is a medical condition in which a person experiences severe abdominal pain after eating. This pain is caused due to abnormality of the digestive system in which the tissues of the digestive system do not get the blood that is required for them to function normally. This is because of a condition called as Mesenteric Atherosclerosis. This condition can take dangerous turns and progress to sepsis and even untimely death of an individual if not diagnosed and treated on time. The physicians are ever aware of this condition and try their best to diagnose and treat this condition as early as possible especially when they treating older people. The symptoms of Postprandial Abdominal Pain are variable depending on the extent by which the blood flow is restricted in the tissues but the common thing among all cases of Postprandial Abdominal Pain is that the affected individual will have extreme abdominal pain while the food is being digested.

Postprandial Abdominal Pain

What Causes Postprandial Abdominal Pain?

Postprandial Abdominal Pain is almost all the times caused by atherosclerosis of the mesenteric arteries. To understand it better, there are three major arteries which supply blood to the digestive tract which are the celiac artery, superior mesenteric artery, and the inferior mesenteric artery. This condition is usually caused due to blockage of any two of these arteries. The affected patient experiences abdominal pain as the arteries are blocked and the tissues are deprived of adequate blood and the process of digestion is stalled abruptly. This pain starts usually 20 minutes after having a meal. The classic feature of this disease is that the individual will feel the pain at almost the same time every day after eating a meal.

What Are The Symptoms Of Postprandial Abdominal Pain?

The classic symptom of Postprandial Abdominal Pain is pain after about 20 minutes of eating a meal, but the symptoms again vary from person to person. The affected individual may also experience diarrhea. There will also be dyspepsia as the food is not digested appropriately. Postprandial Abdominal Pain also can cause nausea along with pain which may or may not be accompanied with vomiting. In some cases, there can be severe vomiting which can cause severe loss of weight and malnutrition. These symptoms may make the patient avoiding food for fear of having the symptoms of pain and vomiting.

How Is Postprandial Abdominal Pain Diagnosed?

As the symptoms of Postprandial Abdominal Pain can also be seen in several other diseases of the digestive tract hence it becomes essential for the physician to rule out other causes of the symptoms before ruling in Postprandial Abdominal Pain. One such condition is gastric ulcers which has almost the same symptom presentation as that of Postprandial Abdominal Pain. Just to rule out such conditions an EGD is performed to take a look at the internal structures of the stomach to find out a confirmatory cause of the symptoms. CT scan and MRI of the abdominal area is also quite helpful in ruling out various conditions which can mimic symptoms of Postprandial Abdominal Pain. Once all the other diagnoses have been ruled out then the diagnosis of Postprandial Abdominal Pain is quite straightforward.

How Is Postprandial Abdominal Pain Treated?

How Is Postprandial Abdominal Pain Treated?

The treatment for Postprandial Abdominal Pain is dependent on the cause of the condition and the degree of damage to the tissues done by the disease process. In case if Postprandial Abdominal Pain is caused due to bacterial conditions like ischemic colitis then the frontline treatment is a course of antibiotics to relieve the condition. If Postprandial Abdominal Pain is caused due to cardiac conditions then the best way to treat is by diet and exercise. For such cases, it is recommended that the patient eat smaller meals about two to three times a day. The patient will have to avoid habits like smoking and drinking. In some cases surgery is preferred depending on the extent of damage, as in some cases there may be necrosis of tissues which is then required to be removed surgically.

In cases of mesenteric artery ischemia of acute type being the cause of Postprandial Abdominal Pain then surgery will be required in most of the cases to bypass the obstructed vessel or removal of damaged tissue that is beyond repair. In some cases vasodilators and anticoagulants are also used along with surgery. The chronic type of this disease also requires surgery although it may not as emergent as in the acute type of mesenteric ischemia. There is no clear cut treatment measure for chronic mesenteric artery ischemia apart from lifestyle alterations and avoiding smoking and drinking.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 5, 2019

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