Mesenteric Venous Thrombosis

Symptoms, Doctors, Treatments, Research & More

Condition 101

What is the definition of Mesenteric Venous Thrombosis?

Mesenteric venous thrombosis (MVT) is a blood clot in one or more of the major veins that drain blood from the intestine. The superior mesenteric vein is most commonly involved.

What are the alternative names for Mesenteric Venous Thrombosis?


What are the causes for Mesenteric Venous Thrombosis?

MVT is a clot that blocks blood flow in a mesenteric vein. There are two such veins through which blood leaves the intestine. The condition stops the blood circulation of the intestine and can result in damage to the intestine.

The exact cause of MVT is unknown. However, there are many diseases that can lead to MVT. Many of the diseases cause swelling (inflammation) of the tissues surrounding the veins, and include:

  • Appendicitis
  • Cancer of the abdomen
  • Diverticulitis
  • Liver disease with cirrhosis
  • High blood pressure in the blood vessels of the liver
  • Abdominal surgery or trauma
  • Pancreatitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disorders
  • Heart failure
  • Protein C or S deficiencies
  • Polycythemia vera
  • Essential thrombocythemia

People who have disorders that make the blood more likely to stick together (clot) have a higher risk for MVT. Birth control pills and estrogen medicines also increase risk.

MVT is more common in men than women. It mainly affects middle aged or older adults.

What are the symptoms for Mesenteric Venous Thrombosis?

Symptoms may include any of the following:

  • Abdominal pain, which may get worse after eating and over time
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Septic shock
  • Lower gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Vomiting and nausea

What are the current treatments for Mesenteric Venous Thrombosis?

Blood thinners (most commonly heparin or related medicines) are used to treat MVT when there is no associated bleeding. In some cases, medicine can be delivered directly into the clot to dissolve it. This procedure is called thrombolysis.

Less often, the clot is removed with a type of surgery called thrombectomy.

If there are signs and symptoms of a severe infection called peritonitis, surgery to remove the intestine is done. After surgery, an ileostomy (opening from the small intestine into a bag on the skin) or colostomy (an opening from the colon into the skin) may be needed.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Mesenteric Venous Thrombosis?

Outlook depends on the cause of the thrombosis and any damage to the intestine. Getting treatment for the cause before the intestine has died can result in a good recovery.

What are the possible complications for Mesenteric Venous Thrombosis?

Intestinal ischemia is a serious complication of MVT. Some or the entire intestine dies because of poor blood supply.

When should I contact a medical professional for Mesenteric Venous Thrombosis?

Call your health care provider if you have severe or repeated episodes of abdominal pain.


Brandt LJ, Feuerstadt P. Intestinal ischemia. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology/Diagnosis/Management. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 118.

Cloud A, Dussel JN, Webster-Lake C, Indes J. Mesenteric ischemia. In: Yeo CJ, ed. Shackelford's Surgery of the Alimentary Tract. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 87.

Roline CE, Reardon RF. Disorders of the small intestine. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 82.

Latest Research

Latest Advance
  • Condition: Lower Extremity Venous Thromboembolism
  • Journal: JAMA
  • Treatment Used: Direct Oral Anticoagulants
  • Number of Patients: 0
  • Published —
This article discusses the diagnosis and treatment of lower extremity venous thromboembolism (clot).
Latest Advance
  • Condition: Venous Thrombosis in Critically Ill
  • Journal: Clinical and applied thrombosis/hemostasis : official journal of the International Academy of Clinical and Applied Thrombosis/Hemostasis
  • Treatment Used: Intermittent Pneumatic Compression
  • Number of Patients: 0
  • Published —
The study researched the use of intermittent pneumatic compression to decrease the risk of venous thromboembolism for critically ill patients.