What Causes Mesenteric Lymphadenitis?

Medically Reviewed on 6/16/2021
mesenteric lymphadenitis
Mesenteric lymphadenitis is an inflammatory condition that causes swollen lymph nodes in the stomach

Mesenteric lymphadenitis is an inflammatory condition that affects the lymph nodes in the mesentery, which is the membrane that connects the bowel to the abdominal wall. It mainly affects children and teens

This painful condition can mimic appendicitis or intussusception, a condition in which part of the intestine slides into another part of the intestine. Unlike appendicitis or intussusception, however, mesenteric lymphadenitis is rarely serious and usually clears up on its own.

The most common cause of mesenteric lymphadenitis is a viral infection. Infections that cause mesenteric lymphadenitis include:

Other infections that cause mesenteric lymphadenitis include:

  • HIV/AIDS. Direct or indirect infections related to HIV, a virus that can lead to AIDS.
  • Tuberculosis. Bacterial infection that usually attacks the lungs but can also attack other parts of the body.
  • Acute terminal ileitis. Inflammation of the end of the small intestine, possibly caused by a bacterium or Crohn’s disease.

Inflammatory conditions commonly linked to mesenteric lymphadenitis are:

What are signs and symptoms of mesenteric lymphadenitis?

Mesenteric lymphadenitis often causes symptoms in the right lower abdomen, and is often mistaken for appendicitis. Common symptoms of mesenteric lymphadenitis include:

How is mesenteric lymphadenitis diagnosed?

Mesenteric lymphadenitis is usually diagnosed based on:

  • Blood tests. Certain blood tests can help determine the presence of an infection as well as what type of infection it is.
  • Imaging studies. An abdominal ultrasound is often used to diagnose mesenteric lymphadenitis. A computed tomography (CT) scan of the abdomen also might be used to rule out other causes.

How is mesenteric lymphadenitis treated?

Most people with mesenteric lymphadenitis get better without treatment in 1-4 weeks, and the condition doesn’t cause any lingering effects after recovery. 

Your doctor may prescribe medications, including antibiotics, to treat the infections and over-the-counter pain medication to manage symptoms.

Symptoms of mesenteric lymphadenitis can also be managed with:

  • Rest
  • Drinking water to stay hydrated after vomiting and diarrhea
  • Applying heat to the abdomen


The abbreviated term ADHD denotes the condition commonly known as: See Answer

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Medically Reviewed on 6/16/2021
Putrus AS. Mesenteric Lymphadenitis. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/181162-overview