Intestinal ischemia (is-KE-me-uh) occurs when blood vessels (arteries) to your intestines become narrowed or blocked, reducing blood flow. Intestinal ischemia can affect your small intestine, your large intestine (colon) or both. The decreased blood flow can cause pain and can permanently damage your intestine.

Sudden loss of blood flow to the intestine (acute intestinal ischemia) is a medical emergency that requires immediate surgery. Intestinal ischemia that develops over time (chronic) requires treatment because it can become acute, or lead to severe weight loss and malnutrition.

Aug. 17, 2012