Diseases and Conditions

Intestinal ischemia


If your doctor suspects intestinal ischemia, you may undergo several diagnostic tests, based on your signs and symptoms, including:

  • Blood tests. Although there are no specific blood markers to indicate intestinal ischemia, certain general blood test results might suggest intestinal ischemia. An example of such a result is an increase in white cell count.
  • Imaging tests. Imaging tests may help your doctor see your internal organs and rule out other causes for your signs and symptoms. Imaging tests may include an X-ray, ultrasound, CT scan and MRI.
  • A scope to see inside your digestive tract. This technique involves inserting a lighted, flexible tube with a camera on its tip into your mouth or rectum to view your digestive tract from the inside. When inserted in your mouth (endoscopy), the scope examines the upper portion of your small intestine. When inserted in your rectum, the scope examines the last 2 feet of your colon (sigmoidoscopy) or your entire colon (colonoscopy).
  • Dye that tracks blood flow through the arteries. During this test (angiography), a long, thin tube (catheter) is inserted into an artery in your groin or arm, then passed through the artery to the aorta. A dye injected through the catheter flows directly to your intestinal arteries. As the dye moves through your arteries, a narrowed areas or blockage is visible on X-ray images. Angiography also allows the doctor to treat a blockage in an artery by injecting medication or using special tools to widen an artery.
  • Exploratory surgery. In some cases you may need exploratory surgery to find and remove damaged tissue. Opening the abdomen allows diagnosis and treatment during one procedure.