Mesenteric adenitis is an inflammation of the mesenteric lymph nodes, located in the lower right area of the abdomen close to the appendix. This condition causes acute abdominal pain and is sometimes confused with appendicitis, since the symptoms are similar. Treatment for it generally consists of supportive care, as it often clears up on its own, although the patient will be monitored for any signs that the lymph nodes have ruptured and released infectious material into the bloodstream, a rare and potentially fatal complication.
The lymph nodes serve as collection points for bacteria and other foreign particles that make their way into the body and are swept up by the immune system. As such, they are common locations for infections and inflammation. In the case of mesenteric adenitis, also known as mesenteric lymphadenitis, the lymph nodes swell and become tender. The patient can experience a sore throat and a localized pain around the lower right quadrant of the abdomen. Once the body fights off the infection, the patient will start to feel better.
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The frequent confusion of this condition with appendicitis often lands patients in a medical office or hospital for evaluation. To rule out appendicitis, medical imaging studies of the abdomen can be performed to get an idea of what is going on inside the body. If the appendix appears normal, the patient may be prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs and sent home with directions to call if the symptoms become more severe.
Providing the patient with plenty of fluids, warm conditions, and adequate nutrition is usually all that is needed to help a patient recover from mesenteric adenitis. In cases where the lymph nodes do rupture, the patient will develop an acute fever, chills, and intense abdominal pain. Patients who experience these symptoms should be taken to a doctor for immediate evaluation and treatment. Interventions may include aggressive antibiotics to kill bacteria in the bloodstream.
The causes of mesenteric adenitis are not well understood; patients tend to have a history of disease before mesenteric adenitis develops, but there are no known specific risk factors. Patients cannot do anything to prevent this condition, although trying to stay generally healthy can often help people avoid common inflammations and infections. Treating mild illnesses with rest and fluids will help prevent the onset of more serious complications later on and may limit the risk of lymph node inflammation by reducing the amount of work for the immune system.