We present the case of a 63-year-old male patient admitted to the emergency department with severe acute abdominal pain unresponsive to symptomatic treatment. The clinical examination revealed a generalized peritoneal reaction. The diagnosis of small bowel ischemia with free peritoneal fluid without occlusion of the superior mesenteric artery (SMA) or the superior mesenteric vein (SMV) was established by means of a contrast injected CT-scan.
A laparoscopic exploration allowed to discover a segmental small bowel ischemic necrosis with severe hemorrhagic congestion of the bowel wall. After verifying that the rest of the small bowel and the colon were viable, a laparoscopic resection was performed with an intracorporeal side-to-side anastomosis. The postoperative course was uneventful with patient discharge on day 4.
Pathological examination confirmed that the resected segment of 92cm had ischemia of the mucosa and of the serosa with intensive congestion and hemorrhagic effusion. The patient’s one-month follow-up was uneventful. A programmed cardiological, hematological and immunological consultation and work-up to look for thrombotic risk factors was negative.
Acute small bowel ischemia is an unusual cause of acute abdomen that is difficult to diagnose due to its non-specific clinical signs. Clinical suspicion is warranted in patients with a past history of cardiovascular thrombotic conditions or hypercoagulable states. In 50% of cases, it is caused by arterial obstruction, in 20 to 30% of cases by non-occlusive arterial ischemia, and by venous occlusion  in 5 to 15% of cases. It has a high mortality rate of 59 to 93% and patient survival is highly dependent on a timely diagnosis and treatment. The European Association for Endoscopic Surgery (EAES) consensus for the laparoscopic approach to the acute abdomen states that there is no published data demonstrating advantages in the diagnosis and treatment of acute bowel ischemia by laparoscopy . However, laparoscopy may prove beneficial in confirming the diagnosis in doubtful cases, calculate the extension of the ischemic small bowel segment, and offer a treatment option in cases of segmental necrosis.
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