Mesenteric lymphadenitis, also known as mesenteric adenitis, is inflammation (swelling) of the lymph nodes in the abdomen (belly). Lymph nodes are organs that are part of your body’s immune system. They filter harmful substances such as bacteria and viruses so that they don’t spread to other parts of your body.
Causes of Mesenteric Lymphadenitis
An infection by a virus or bacteria usually causes mesenteric lymphadenitis. Infections that could cause mesenteric lymphadenitis include:
Gastroenteritis (sometimes called the stomach flu).
Bacteria found in undercooked meat (Yersinia enterocolitica).
Infection related to HIV.
Inflammation in your child’s abdominal lymph nodes could be the result of another condition that creates another part of your body to swell including:
Cancers (lymphoma, gastrointestinal cancer).
Inflammatory bowel disease.
Symptoms of Mesenteric Lymphadenitis
Symptoms of mesenteric lymphadenitis range in severity. Symptoms of mesenteric lymphadenitis are similar to appendicitis and could include:
Pain in the abdomen, often on the lower right side of the belly.
Tenderness in the abdomen.
Nausea and/or vomiting.
Diagnosis of Mesenteric Lymphadenitis
To diagnose mesenteric lymphadenitis, your child’s provider will perform a physical exam and review your child’s medical history.
They will also ask questions about your child’s symptoms including how long they’ve had them and if they were recently sick before their symptoms started.
They may even recommend blood tests, including a complete blood count (CBC).
Because there are a large number of lymph nodes in the same area as the appendix (the right lower abdomen), symptoms of mesenteric lymphadenitis are similar to those of appendicitis (inflamed appendix).
Your provider may use imaging tests, such as an ultrasound or CT scan, to rule out appendicitis, which is a medical emergency.
Treatment of Mesenteric Lymphadenitis
Most children with mesenteric lymphadenitis get better without treatment in one to four weeks. The condition doesn’t cause any lasting effects after recovery.
While mesenteric lymphadenitis is self-resolving, your child’s healthcare provider may prescribe medications to manage symptoms. If your child’s diagnosis is the result of a bacterial infection, your provider will prescribe antibiotics.
Other steps to manage the symptoms of mesenteric lymphadenitis include:
Drinking water to stay hydrated after vomiting and diarrhea.
Applying heat to the abdomen with a heating pad.
Taking over-the-counter pain medication.