How Is Mesenteric Lymphadenitis Diagnosed?

The mesenteric lymphadenitis should be promptly diagnosed so as to start a proper treatment. Also, it is the responsibility of the physician to avoid any unwanted testing procedures as it may increase the cost burden and causing patient’s inconvenience. The cause of the disease is multifactorial and thus, a sophisticated diagnostic technique should be used to diagnose one disease and exclude the existence of other diseases.

How Is Mesenteric Lymphadenitis Diagnosed?

How Is Mesenteric Lymphadenitis Diagnosed?

Mesenteric lymphadenitis is caused by the infection in the abdominal cavity which results in the swelling of lymph nodes of the mesenteric region. The symptom of abdominal pain in the lower right quadrant is very often misdiagnosed as appendicitis. Thus, for an appropriate treatment schedule and quick recovery, proper and relevant diagnostic techniques should be used. Following are the diagnostic techniques used to diagnose Mesenteric lymphadenitis:

  1. Preliminary Signs And Symptoms: The physician will try to identify the proper cause of the symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, nausea and vomiting on the basis of preliminary examination, prior to advising other diagnostic procedures. Other symptoms related to the preliminary examination include fever and rectal tenderness.
  2. Blood Test: The common causative organism for mesenteric lymphadenitis is Y. enterocolitica. Thus, the serological examination may be conducted to identify the presence of this bacterium. Further bacterial culture from the blood also provides the crucial information.
  3. Leukocytes: The number of leukocytes increases at the time of infection. The leukocyte count in the blood should be identified to confirm the presence of infection.
  4. Urinary Examination: The urinary tract infection analysis should be done so as to exclude the possibility of urinary tract infection.
  5. Stool Test: if the patient experience severe diarrhea, the stool test should be conducted to confirm the present of bacteria.
  6. CT Scan: Computed Tomography scanning is done to visualize the internal organs and their relative size as compared to the normal size. The CT scan is an important tool in differentiating the conditions such as mesenteric lymphadenitis and acute appendicitis on the basis of difference in the distribution of swollen lymph nodes.
  7. MRI: The Magnetic Resonance Imaging is also used in determining the cause of abdominal pain and related symptoms.
  8. Ultrasound Imaging: Ultrasonography is sometimes used as a preliminary tool for excluding the other related disease responsible for abdominal pain. Further, various researches have also advocated the use of this technique in the diagnosis of mesenteric lymphadenitis.

Causes of Mesenteric Lymphadenitis

Mesenteric lymphadenitis is the swollen mesenteric lymph nodes and they become swollen due to various reasons, the most common being infection. The condition is characterized by the swollen lymph nodes present in the connecting region between the intestine and the abdominal wall.

Infection: Various infective agents are responsible for mesenteric lymphadenitis. The primary causative agent is Y. enterocolitica, which is transferred through unhygienic food habits. The other organisms include staphylococcus, streptococcus or salmonella. The infection may include gastroenteritis, tuberculosis and infection of ileum.

Immunosuppression: If the patient is on the immunosuppressive drugs, the immune system of the body gets compromised and higher chances exists for developing swollen lymph nodes. The condition is commonly seen in patients with AIDS.

Cancer: Cancer is also a causative agent for mesenteric lymphadenitis. The type of cancer that relates to this condition includes pancreatic cancer or gastrointestinal cancer.

Inflammation: Inflammation in the body may also cause the mesenteric lymph nodes to swell due to the presence of various inflammatory mediators. The inflammation in context to this condition is generally in the abdominal area such as appendicitis, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis and pancreatitis.


Early diagnosis of is the mainstay in the quick treatment of mesenteric lymphadenitis. Any delay in diagnosis makes the condition severe and the treatment more complicated. The diagnostic process applied ranges from the physical examination of the body according to the presented symptom to blood test, urine test serological testing, bacterial culture and stool test. The confirmatory diagnosis is done through imaging analysis such as CT scan, ultrasonography or MRI.

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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:January 27, 2020

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