Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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, laboratory study of a blood sample that shows, say, an increase in white cell count, might suggest intestinal ischemia.
  • 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 X-ray, ultrasound, CT scan and MRI.
  • Using 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. The camera can be inserted in your mouth (endoscopy) to help see the upper portion of your small intestine. The camera can also be inserted in your rectum to view the last 2 feet of your colon (sigmoidoscopy) or to view your entire colon (colonoscopy).
  • Using dye to track blood flow through the arteries. During 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 is injected that flows directly to your intestinal arteries. X-ray images are then taken that show the dye moving through your arteries.

    If you have intestinal ischemia, the images may show a blocked or narrowed artery. 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.
Aug. 15, 2015