Sclerosing mesenteritis occurs when the membrane that attaches the small intestine to the back of the abdomen (small bowel mesentery) becomes inflamed and fibrous. Why this happens isn't known. A Mayo Clinic study found that about 40 percent of people with sclerosing mesenteritis had previously had abdominal surgery. Allergies, infections and the body's immune system are other possible causes that have been suggested.
Sclerosing mesenteritis occurs most often in middle-aged and older adults, and more frequently in men.
The severity of sclerosing mesenteritis symptoms varies widely. A Mayo Clinic study found that 10 percent of people with sclerosing mesenteritis experienced no symptoms. Other people experienced:
About 50 percent of people with sclerosing mesenteritis may not need treatment. But regular follow-up exams are needed because sclerosing mesenteritis can be associated with complications such as lymphoma, monoclonal gammopathy and ovarian cancer.