Sclerosing mesenteritis occurs when the tissue (mesentery) that holds the small intestines in place becomes inflamed and forms scar tissue. Sclerosing mesenteritis is rare, and it's not clear what causes it.

Sclerosing mesenteritis can cause abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhea. But some people experience no signs and symptoms and may never need treatment.

In rare cases, scar tissue formed by sclerosing mesenteritis can block food from moving through your digestive tract. Surgery may be necessary in this situation.

  • Teamwork. At Mayo Clinic, digestive disease specialists (gastroenterologists), radiologists, pathologists and surgeons work as a multidisciplinary team to care for people with sclerosing mesenteritis. Other professionals are included as needed.
  • Experience. Mayo Clinic doctors have experience diagnosing and treating this rare condition. Mayo Clinic doctors care for more than 150 people with sclerosing mesenteritis each year.
  • Diagnostic expertise. Sclerosing mesenteritis is often mistaken for other digestive diseases. Mayo Clinic doctors are experienced in the techniques necessary for making the correct diagnosis.
  • A full range of treatment options to consider. Mayo Clinic doctors will work with you to review all of your treatment options and choose the treatment that best suits your needs and goals. The range of treatments offered to people with sclerosing mesenteritis includes medications and surgery.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., ranks No. 1 for digestive disorders in the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals rankings. Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., are ranked high performing for digestive disorders by U.S. News & World Report.

At Mayo Clinic, we assemble a team of specialists who take the time to listen and thoroughly understand your health issues and concerns. We tailor the care you receive to your personal health care needs. You can trust our specialists to collaborate and offer you the best possible outcomes, safety and service.

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Tests and procedures used to diagnose sclerosing mesenteritis include:

  • Physical exam. During a physical exam, your doctor will look for clues that may help determine your diagnosis. For instance, sclerosing mesenteritis often forms a mass in your upper abdomen that can be felt during a physical exam.
  • Imaging tests. Imaging tests of your abdomen may reveal sclerosing mesenteritis. Imaging tests may include computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • Removing a sample of tissue for testing (biopsy). If you're experiencing sclerosing mesenteritis signs and symptoms, your doctor may recommend a biopsy to rule out other diseases and to make a definitive diagnosis. A biopsy sample may be collected by inserting a long needle through your skin or during surgery.

Treatment may not be necessary

If you don't have any signs or symptoms of sclerosing mesenteritis, you may not require treatment. Instead, your doctor may recommend periodic imaging tests to monitor your condition.

If you begin to experience signs and symptoms of sclerosing mesenteritis, you may choose to begin treatment.

Medications

Medications for sclerosing mesenteritis are intended to control inflammation. Medications may include:

  • Corticosteroids. Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, control inflammation. Corticosteroids can be used alone or in combination with other medications.
  • Hormone therapy. The hormone treatment tamoxifen may slow the growth of scar tissue. It may be combined with other medications.
  • Other drugs. Several other medications have been used to treat sclerosing mesenteritis, such as azathioprine (Imuran, Azasan), colchicine (Colcrys), cyclophosphamide and thalidomide (Thalomid).

Surgery

If your sclerosing mesenteritis advances to block the flow of food through your digestive system, surgery may be needed to remove the blockage.

Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people. In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.

At Mayo Clinic in Arizona, specialists in gastroenterology work with experts in radiology, pathology and surgery to care for people with sclerosing mesenteritis. Other experts are included as needed.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 800-446-2279 (toll-free) 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

At Mayo Clinic in Florida, specialists in gastroenterology work with experts in radiology, pathology and surgery to care for people with sclerosing mesenteritis. Other experts are included as needed.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 904-953-0853 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

At Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, specialists in gastroenterology work with experts in radiology, pathology and surgery to care for people with sclerosing mesenteritis. Other experts are included as needed.

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See information on patient services at the three Mayo Clinic locations, including transportation options and lodging.

Mayo Clinic doctors and scientists are studying new ways to diagnose and treat sclerosing mesenteritis.

Publications

See a list of publications by Mayo Clinic authors on sclerosing mesenteritis on PubMed, a service of the National Library of Medicine.

Mar. 22, 2014