Is Mesenteric Lymphadenitis Dangerous?

Mesenteric lymphadenitis is caused primarily due to infection and also caused by various other conditions. It is the swelling of lymph nodes present in the mesenteric area present in the abdominal system. Any infection, when left untreated or undertreated or misdiagnosed result in dangerous and sometimes fatal consequences. The symptoms of Mesenteric lymphadenitis include abdominal pain, the reason of which should be properly diagnosed so as to differentiate it from the acute appendicitis. Other symptoms are high fever, weight loss, fatigue, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. The causes of the Mesenteric lymphadenitis are infection, inflammation and cancer. Infection is due to enterocolitica, salmonella, streptococcus and staphylococcus. Cancer includes pancreatic cancer or gastrointestinal cancer. The inflammation responsible for Mesenteric lymphadenitis is diverticulitis or pancreatitis.

Is Mesenteric Lymphadenitis Dangerous?

Mesenteric lymphadenitis is caused due to the swollen lymph nodes. These nodes are swollen due to the infection in the mesenteric region. It is the area connecting the abdominal wall to the intestine. When there is an infection in the area, the lymph nodes get activated and fights against the infection leading to swelling in the nodes. However, if the infection remains untreated or undertreated, it may lead to complications in the abdominal organs and may also affect the body as a whole. Following are the dangerous consequences that may occur due to mesenteric lymphadenitis:

Diarrhea And Electrolytic Imbalance: The infection in the abdominal region causes sever diarrhea in many cases, resulting in the severe electrolytic balance in the body. This will result in fatigue and muscle pain along with the effect on the working of vital organs such as heart. This may also lead to hypovolemic shock which cannot be managed with the fluid replacement therapy.

Peritonitis: Peritoneum is the membrane that covers the abdominal organs. If the infection is severe and not managed properly, it causes inflammation of the peritoneal wall which is a life-threatening condition.

Sepsis: When the infection is so severe that it starts approaching other parts of the body through blood, the results are fatal. The treatment is highly complex in case of sepsis and requires aggressive therapy.

Abscess Formation: There is abscess formation in the lymph nodes which results in swelling and pain. Sometimes surgery is done to drain the abscess, which has its own complications. The abscess may include white blood cells, bacteria or virus, pus cells and fluid.

Arthralgia: The untreated infection may cause arthralgia by invading the joints. The infection may also cause tenosynovitis or sarcoilitis.

Whipple’ Disease: Another dangerous consequence of the Mesenteric lymphadenitis is its association with Whipple’s disease. The disease is fatal when not properly managed.

Types Of Mesenteric Lymphadenitis

Mesenteric lymphadenitis is the process wherein the lymph nodes become swollen and inflamed. On the basis of occurrence of the inflammatory process, the Mesenteric lymphadenitis is divided in to two types:

Primary Mesenteric Lymphadenitis: It is the condition diagnosed when three or more lymph nodes of the Right Lower Quadrant (RLQ) are swollen with or without thickening of the ileal wall. It is primarily caused due to bacterial or viral infection. It is generally considered as self-limiting condition.

Secondary Mesenteric Lymphadenitis: In this type of Mesenteric lymphadenitis, an underlying inflammatory process exists such as in case of pancreatitis, Crohn’s disease or diverticulitis.


Mesenteric lymphadenitis is seldom serious and generally non-dangerous as it is most commonly caused by infection, proper treatment is required. If there is no proper diagnosis or treatment mesenteric lymphadenitis becomes dangerous, life-threatening and fatal. Sophisticated diagnostic techniques should be used, and the disease should be actively managed. If the disease left untreated, the symptoms becomes more severe and new symptoms emerged due to the infection targeting the organs other than gastric region. The complication that are dangerous includes hypovolemic shock, severe diarrhea resulting is unmanageable electrolytic imbalance, peritonitis, abscess formation, sepsis and non-specific arthralgia. If properly treated, mesenteric lymphadenitis is curable.

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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:October 19, 2018

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