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World J Gastroenterol. Aug 28, 2018; 24(32): 3637-3649
Published online Aug 28, 2018. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v24.i32.3637
Diagnosis and management of fibromuscular dysplasia and segmental arterial mediolysis in gastroenterology field: A mini-review
Masayoshi Ko, Kenya Kamimura, Kohei Ogawa, Kentaro Tominaga, Akira Sakamaki, Hiroteru Kamimura, Satoshi Abe, Kenichi Mizuno, Shuji Terai, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Niigata University, Niigata 9518510, Japan
ORCID number: Masayoshi Ko (0000-0002-0792-0868); Kenya Kamimura (0000-0001-7182-4400); Kohei Ogawa (0000-0001-6681-4427); Kentaro Tominaga (0000-0003-0565-4516); Akira Sakamaki (0000-0002-9368-7272); Hiroteru Kamimura (0000-0002-9135-3092); Satoshi Abe (0000-0003-1153-0720); Kenichi Mizuno (0000-0003-4702-9874); Shuji Terai (0000-0002-5439-635X).
Author contributions: Ko M, Kamimura K wrote the manuscript; Ogawa K, Tominaga K, Sakamaki A, Kamimura H, Abe S, Mizuno K, and Terai S collected information; all authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript.
Conflict-of-interest statement: The authors declare that they have no current financial arrangement or affiliation with any organization that may have a direct influence on their work.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article which was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Correspondence to: Kenya Kamimura, MD, PhD, Lecturer, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Niigata University, 1-757 Asahimachi-dori, Chuo-ku, Niigata 9518510, Japan.
Telephone: +81-25-2272207 Fax: +81-25-2270776
Received: May 25, 2018
Peer-review started: May 27, 2018
First decision: June 15, 2018
Revised: June 17, 2018
Accepted: June 25, 2018
Article in press: June 25, 2018
Published online: August 28, 2018
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The vascular diseases including aneurysm, occlusion, and thromboses in the mesenteric lesions could cause severe symptoms and appropriate diagnosis and treatment are essential for managing patients. With the development and improvement of imaging modalities, diagnostic frequency of these vascular diseases in abdominal lesions is increasing even with the small changes in the vasculatures. Among various vascular diseases, fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD) and segmental arterial mediolysis (SAM) are noninflammatory, nonatherosclerotic arterial diseases which need to be diagnosed urgently because these diseases could affect various organs and be lethal if the appropriate management is not provided. However, because FMD and SAM are rare, the cause, prevalence, clinical characteristics including the symptoms, findings in the imaging studies, pathological findings, management, and prognoses have not been systematically summarized. Therefore, there have been neither standard diagnostic criteria nor therapeutic methodologies established, to date. To systematically summarize the information and to compare these disease entities, we have summarized the characteristics of FMD and SAM in the gastroenterological regions by reviewing the cases reported thus far. The information summarized will be helpful for physicians treating these patients in an emergency care unit and for the differential diagnosis of other diseases showing severe abdominal pain.

Key Words: Fibromuscular dysplasia, Segmental arterial mediolysis, Mesenteric lesion, diagnosis, Humans

Core tip: The vascular diseases in the abdominal lesions needs to be appropriately diagnosed and treated as it could be lethal if the appropriate management is not provided. Mesenteric ischemia caused by the atherosclerotic changes is rather famous however, fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD) and segmental arterial mediolysis (SAM) which are noninflammatory, nonatherosclerotic arterial diseases are rare and the cause, prevalence, clinical characteristics including the symptoms, findings in the imaging studies, pathological findings, management, and prognoses have not been systematically summarized. Therefore, we have summarized the characteristics of FMD and SAM in the gastroenterological regions and review the cases reported thus far. The information summarized will be helpful for physicians treating these patients in an emergency care unit and for the differential diagnosis of other diseases showing severe abdominal pain.


A literature search was conducted using PubMed and Ovid, with the term “fibromuscular dysplasia” or “segmental arterial mediolysis” and “mesenteric” to extract studies published in the last 55 years for fibromuscular dysplasia and in the last 21 years for segmental arterial mediolysis. We summarized the available information on demographics, clinical symptoms, image studies, histological findings, treatment, and clinical course.

Clinical characteristics

The detailed clinical and pathological classification of fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD) was first reported by Harrison and McCormack in 1971[1]. Since then, several studies regarding clinical course and histological data have been published, and recently, data from the first 447 patients from the United States Registry (US Registry) for FMD have been reported[1]. FMD is a noninflammatory, nonatherosclerotic arterial disease of the medium-sized arteries throughout the body, which could lead to arterial stenosis, occlusion, aneurysm, and dissection[2]. The details of the disease have not yet been clarified; however, it is typically found in the renal, extracranial, carotid, and vertebral arteries[2].

The disease is rare, with a frequency of 0.02%, predominantly occurring in women (91%) with a mean age of 55.7 ± 13.1 years especially in the Caucasian (95.4%)[2].

The mean patient age at first symptom or sign of FMD was 47.2 years (range, 5-83 years)[2]. The mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of FMD are still poorly understood; however, smoking, hormones, HLA-DRw6 polymorphism, and physiological stimulation have been reported to be risk factors[3]. For example, a significant dose-response relationship between cigarette smoking and the presence of FMD has been reported, with an odds ratio of 8.6 when having smoked more than 10 pack-years of cigarettes[3]. The risk of HLA-DRw6 was reported with an odds ratio of 5.0, adjusted for the level of smoking[3].

FMD can occur in any medium-sized arteries throughout the body, and dissection and aneurysm have been identified in 19.7% and 17.0% of FMD patients, respectively. The three major sites affected with dissection are the carotid arteries (14.8% of all patients enrolled), followed by renal arteries (4.3%), and vertebral arteries (3.4%)[2,4]. The three major sites affected with aneurysm are the renal arteries (5.6% of all patients enrolled), followed by carotid arteries (3.6%), and the aorta (3.4%)[2]. FMD in abdominal lesions, classified as mesenteric FMD, which is caused by the celiac and mesenteric arteries, is a rare condition and often presents as an incidental diagnosis[2]. On the basis of the US Registry data, mesenteric ischemia was reported in only 1.3% of cases, with aneurysm and dissection in these vessels accounting for 6.8% and 22.3% of all cases reported, respectively[2].

Symptoms and imaging

The clinical symptoms depend on the vessels involved. When the renal arteries are affected, renovascular hypertension can be observed. Thus, when the carotid arteries are affected, headache, pulsatile tinnitus, and dizziness are the major symptoms[2]. Mesenteric FMD involves the celiac and mesenteric arteries; therefore, mesenteric ischemic symptoms occur, including unspecific abdominal pain. We reviewed the literature describing the cases and have presented the information in Table 1[5-37]. Our literature review summarized a total of 39 cases of mesenteric FMD, showing predominance in women, as reported, and the median age was 45.2 years (range: 19-78 years). Regarding the risk factors, four patients smoked (10%), two patients had smoking histories (5%), and one patient had taken oral contraceptive pills (2.6%). The most common presenting symptom was abdominal pain (62%), followed by hypertension, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, and headache. Although approximately 80% of cases showed symptom improvement, eight patients (20%) died because of the severity of the intestinal ischemia.

Table 1 Summary of mesenteric fibromuscular dysplasia reported to date.
Case (n)Ref.Age (yr)Gender(Male/Female)Risk factorsSymptomsVessels InvolvedCTAngiographyPathologyTreatmentAnti-hypertensive drugAnti-coagulantsOutcome
1[5]62MN/AUpper abdominal pain, hemoperitoneum, shockCeliac, SMA, IMA, RAN/AN/AIntimal thickening in the branches of the SMA and IMA.LaparotomyNoneNoneDied
2[6]45FN/AAbdominal painSMA, RAN/AN/AN/AIleal resectionN/AN/AImproved
3[6]50FN/AHypertension, abdominal pain, diarrheaSMA, RA, iliacN/AStenosis and string-of-beads like Appearance in the SMAN/ASMA revascularizationN/AN/AImproved
4[7]73FN/AN/ACeliac, SMA, iliacN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AImproved
5[7]42FN/AN/ASMA, RAN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AImproved
6[7]50FN/AHypertensionCeliac, SMA, RAlN/AMinimal defects in the SMA and RA; stenosis of celiac arteryN/AN/AN/AN/AImproved
7[7]37FN/AVisceral ischemic symptomsCeliac, SMA, RAN/AN/AN/ARevascularizationN/AN/AImproved
8[7]47FN/AHypertension, abdominal painCeliac, SMA, RAN/ADefects in the SMA and RAMedial hyperplasiaNoneN/AN/ADied
9[8]41FN/AHypertensionSMA, internal carotid, RA, iliacN/ACorkscrew and string-of-beads like appearance in the RA, carotid, iliac arteryReplacement of the normal media with disorganized fibrous and muscular hyperplasiaThromboendarerectomy on SMAN/AN/ADied
10[9]64FN/AUnconsciousnessSMA, circle of WillisN/AN/AMedial hyperplasiaNoneNoneNoneDied
11[10]21MN/AHypertensionCeliac, SMA, RA, carotidN/AStenosis of celiac, SMA, RAIntimal fibroplasiaAnti-hypertensive drug; revascularization of carotid artery; angioplasty of RAYes, N/AN/AImproved
12[10]20FN/AHypertensionSMA, IMA, RA, carotidN/AStenosis of carotid, renal, SMA. Total occlusion of the IMA.Intimal fibroplasiaAnti-hypertensive drug, subclavian-carotid bypass; vascular reconstruction of the kidneyYes, N/AN/AImproved
13[11]55MN/AN/ASMAN/AN/AIntimal hyperplasia in SMANoneN/AN/AN/A
14[12]44FN/AAsymptomatic bruit of the aortoiliac systemCeliac, SMA, RA, iliacN/AString-of-beads like appearance of iliac artery; aneurysms of SMA, RAIntimal fibrosis with development of fibrosisResection and reconstructionN/AN/AImproved
15[13]58FN/ABody weight lossCeliac, SMA, IMA, RA, iliac, aortaN/AOcclusion of celiac, SMA, IMA.N/AOpen surgeryN/AN/AImproved
16[14]46FNone (non-smoker)Palpitations, headache, hypertensionCeliac, SMAN/AAneurysms in the right RA, celiac; occlusion in the left gastric arteryMuscle hypertrophy and disorganisation of elastic tissue of the media in celiac artery.Surgical ligationN/AN/AImproved
17[15]60MNone (non-smoker)Left abdominal pain, diarrheaSMAIrregular nodular thickening in transverse colon.Stenoses of the SMAIntimal fibrosis and focal replacement of medial smooth-muscle fibers by fibrous tissue .Splenic flexure resection and angioplastyN/AN/AImproved
18[16]54FSmokingHypertension, headache, abdominal painSMA, RA, coronaryLiver cystStenosis of the coronary arteriesIntimal hyperplasia in SMA, RA, coronary, splenic, intrahepatic arteryAnti-hypertensive drugα,β-blocker → Ca blockerN/ADied
19[17]39MN/AMelena, lower abdominal painJejunal, SigmoidN/AString-of-beads like appearance in the jejunal and sigmoid arteries.Adventitia is thickened by fibroplasiaResection of the jejunumN/AN/AImproved
20[18]23MN/AHypertensionCeliac, SMA, RA, carotid, vertebral, opthalmic, superficial temporal, iliac, lumber, intercostalHematomasin the paraduodenal and right superior gluteral lesion and splenic infarctionMultiple saccular aneurysms in the celiac, SMA, RA< splenic, hepatic, iliac, lumber, and intercostal arteriesMediolytic FMD with segmental dissection and thrombosisEmbolization of the gastroduodenal and right SMA to prevent hemorrhageN/AN/AImproved
21[19]33MN/AAbdominal painSMAN/AString-of-beads like appearance in the SMAThickening of the media due to hyperplasia in SMAIleal resectionN/AN/AImproved
22[20]78FN/AHypertension, abdominal pain, hemoperitoneum.SMA, RA, colonaryDilated loop of the small bowel and fluid in the peritoneal cavity.N/AMedial and perimedial fibrodysplasia, forms the characteristic petal-like appearance in SMA.NoneNoneNoneDied
23[21]43MNone (non-smoker)No symptomsSMA, iliacSMA aneurysmAneurysms in the SMA, hepatic artery, splenic artery, jejunal artery, iliac arteries.Medial fibrodysplasia in the arteral wallsAneurysm resection and arterial reconstructionN/AN/AImproved
24[22]48FNone (non-smoker)Abdominal pain, hemoperitoneumCeliac, SMA, RAN/AMultiple small aneurysms in celiac, SMA, RAN/ASurgical hemostasis and anti-hypertensive drugsβ-blockerN/AImproved
25[23]57FSmoking (40 packs/yr)Abdominal pain, weight loss, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.Celiac, SMANothing particularStenosis of the celiac artery and SMAMedial thickening, smooth muscle hyperplasia in SMA and celiac arteryAortoiliac and aorto-SMA bypassN/AN/ADied
26[24]48FSmoking (20 packs/yr)Abdominal painCeliac, SMA, IMAN/AOcclusion of the celiac, SMA; enlarged hypertrophic IMAIntimal fibroplasia and an increased deposition of fibrous tissue in the vessel wall mediaReimplantation of the SMAN/AN/AImproved
27[25]38MSmokingGastrointestinal bleeding, anemiaSMA, IMAN/AEctasia in IMA; string-of-beads like appearance in the SMAThickening and hyalinization of medium sized vessel walls, with intimal proliferation.Ileal resectionN/AN/AImproved
28[26]Not providedNot providedNone (non-smoker)Abdominal pain, distension, constipationSMAN/AN/AThick cuff (petal like) of smooth muscle proliferation with normal intima and media in mesenteric artery.Right hemicolectomyN/AN/AImproved
29[27]43FSmoking (10 cigarettes daily for 20 yr)Hypertension, headacheSMA, RAN/AString-of-beads like appearance in the right RA and SMA; stenosis and multiple irregularities in the left RAN/AAngioplasty and anti-hypertensive drugsYes, N/AN/AImproved
31[29]43FN/AHypertension, abdominal pain, headacheSMA, RAAneurysms in the left RAAneurysms in the left RA with sever fibrodysplastic stenosis; string-of-beads like appearance in the right RA; stenosis in SMAIntimal fibroplasia, lost of internal elastic lamina, and massive destruction of the media in the aneurysm wallsAneurysm resection and aortorenal bypass and percutaneous transluminal angioplastyN/AN/AImproved
32[30]44FOral contraceptive pillsHypertension, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomitingSMAStenosis of SMA and nonspecific colitisstenosis in SMAN/AAngioplastyN/AN/AImproved
33[31]30MN/AAbdominal pain, hypertensionCeliac, SMA, RA, iliacDissections of the celiac, SMA, left RA, and external iliac arterystenosis in the right RAN/AAnti-platelet and anti-hypertensive therapy and angioplasty for right renal artery.β-blocker, Ca blockerwarfarin, aspirin (100mg)Improved
34[32]47FN/AAbdominal pain, diarrhea, hypertensionAll abdominal arteriesA partial occlusion of the celiac artery and a total occlusion of the SMAN/AIntimal and medial proliferationAnti-hypertensive drugYes, N/AN/ADied
35[33]47FNone (non-smoker)Nausea, early satiety, abdominal painCeliac, SMAN/AStenosis of the SMA, hypertrophy of the gastroduodenal artery and pancreaticoduodenal arteriesN/AAn aorto-superior mesenteric artery and an aorto-hepatic artery bypass.N/AN/AImproved
36[34]19FN/AAbdominal pain, vomitingSMA, RAN/AStenosis of the origin of the SMA and multiple aneurysms involving the proximal SMA. Right renal artery is mild irregularity.N/AResection of the aneurysmal segment in the SMA; aorto-SMA interposition graft with polytetrafluoroethyleneN/AN/AImproved
37[35]52MSmokingAbdominal painIMAStenosis of the IMAN/ANecrosis of the mucosa; fibrosis of the inimaLeft hemicolectomyN/AN/AImproved
38[36]20FN/AAbdominal pain, hemorrhagic shockSMA, right gastroepiploic, jejunalIntraperitoneal bleeding in the omental bursa and mesentery of the transverse colonString-of-beads like appearance in the jejunal arteryN/ATranscatheter arterial embolizationN/AN/AImproved
39[37]61FN/AAbdominal painSMA, IMA, RAN/AMultiple aneurysms and stenoses in SMA, IMA, RAMultiple tears and dissections of the medial layer and fibrointimal thickeningAnti-coagulationNoneYes, N/AImproved

Reflecting the changes in stenosis, dissection, and aneurysm in the medium-sized arteries, FMD leads to the narrowing of the vasculature and shows a beaded appearance[38]. Therefore, catheter-based angiography has been considered to be the gold standard imaging modality; however, recent progress in imaging, such as computed tomography (CT) with high resolution, could support the diagnoses by determining the vessels affected by the disease. With the information obtained from imaging, the disease is classified into four types: multifocal, which comprises 62% of cases, showing multiple stenosis and string-of-beads; tubular, which comprises 14% of cases, showing long concentric stenosis; focal, which comprises 7% of cases, showing short stenosis of less than 1 cm; and mixed[39]. Our summary also showed aneurysms, stenosis, dissection, and occlusions in the cases for which information was available.


Histopathological findings are characteristics of the disease; thinned media and thickened fibromuscular ridges in which the arterial muscle is replaced by the fibroplasia can be observed. Based on this, the characteristic classification of FMD is essentially based on the arterial layer in which the dysplasia is predominant: intimal fibroplasia, medial fibroplasia, perimedial fibroplasia, medial hyperplasia, and adventitial fibroplasia[40-43]. Intimal fibroplasia, a relatively rare form of the disease, is characterized by focal eccentric or circumferential protuberant intimal proliferation. Medial fibroplasia, the most common type, accounts for more than 70% of this disorder, and angiography shows a typical “string of beads” appearance. Perimedial fibroplasia is the second-most common form of this disorder and is characterized by the accumulation of circumferential aggregations of elastic tissue between the media and the adventitia. Medial hyperplasia is an uncommon form and is characterized by apparent hyperplasia of normal medial smooth muscle with minimal architectural disorganization. Adventitial fibroplasia is characterized by collagenous fibroplasia encircling the adventitia and extending into the surrounding periarterial fibroadipose tissue[20]. In our case summary, fibromuscular change was confirmed histologically in the medial layer in 10 patients (26%), the intimal layer in 9 patients (23%), in both layers in 5 patients (13%), and in the adventitia layer in 1 patient (2.6%) (Table 1).


The long-term outcomes of this disease entity have not been clarified to date, and no randomized clinical trials have been conducted to develop a standard treatment for this disease. Therapeutic options have been chosen on the basis of factors such as disease location, symptoms, prior history of symptoms, and the presence and size of aneurysms. Given that FMD often shows ischemic changes causing hypertension and stroke, most patients are treated with anti-platelet, anti-thrombotic, and anti-hypertensive therapy[44]. Anti-hypertensive medications are administered to 71.7% of patients. The median number of medications patients received was one, and 21.5% of patients received three or more anti-hypertensive medications. The most commonly used agents were beta-blockers (40.0%), diuretics (31.3%), and calcium channel antagonists (25.7%). A total of 21.0% of patients received an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, 21.6% received an angiotensin receptor blocking agent, and 0.8% received both[44]. The use of anti-hypertensive agents is related to the history of hypertension medication, body mass index, and renal function[44]. The use of anti-platelet treatment is associated with cerebrovascular involvement[44]; however, for this entity of medicines, further studies are necessary to determine the clinically meaningful patient outcomes. In our case summary, insufficient information about medications was provided; thus, the actual number treated with antihypertensive therapy might be lower than 18% (Table 1). Anti-coagulation therapy was attempted for two patients (5%), including one patient each receiving warfarin and aspirin.

Vascular intervention and surgery for revascularization are considered with the appropriate clinical symptoms and are rarely performed other than for the renal artery[44]. For the renal artery, endovascular revascularization using the percutaneous transluminal angioplasty technique or surgical procedures are considered when the patients show hypertension resistant to a regimen of three anti-hypertension drugs, including diuretics, or in cases of renal artery aneurysm or renal artery dissection[2,4,38]. Thus far, no randomized clinical trials of revascularization vs medication have been conducted. For other arteries, including the carotid artery, given that FMD is not an atherosclerotic disease, stenting or surgical procedures are not the standard therapy, and medication with anti-platelet, anti-coagulant, and anti-hypertensive agents are the main treatment. However, when symptomatic, interventional radiology using the percutaneous transluminal angioplasty technique can be considered, although it is controversial[38]. In our case summary, open surgery was performed on 23 patients (59%) and endovascular intervention was performed on 9 patients (23%).


Though the prognosis is basically good, when FMD affects the cerebrovascular system, there is a risk of cerebral infarction and rupture. A larger number of cases are necessary to accumulate the information useful to conduct randomized clinical trials.

Clinical characteristics

Segmental arterial mediolysis (SAM) was first reported by Slavin and Gonzalez-Vitale in 1976[45] and is a rare disease entity for which 50 cases have been reported to date. It is defined as a nonatherosclerotic, noninflammatory disruption of the arterial medial layer of a medium- to large-sized artery. Histologically, it is characterized as vacuolization and lysis of the outer arterial media[45]. Because of its rarity and difficulty in differential diagnosis from the other vascular diseases, clinical information is insufficient, and little is known to date; however, no significant predominance of sex or age has been reported. The mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of SAM that have been reported as risk factors are hypoxia, shock, aging, hypertension, circulatory disturbance, arteriospasm, and other vasoconstrictor stimuli[45-47].

Symptoms and imaging

For the abdominal lesion, the most common symptom is nonspecific abdominal and flank pain[46]; diarrhea, nausea, back pain, headache, hypertension, loss of consciousness, and hemiparesis have also been known to be symptoms, although not specific[47]. We reviewed the literature describing the cases and have summarized the information in Table 2[47-71]. The studies reported a total of 26 cases of mesenteric SAM, of which 17 were men and 9 were women, with a slight predominance in men. The median age was 53 years (range: 25-79 years). The most common presenting symptom was abdominal pain (78%), followed by various symptoms, including shock, diarrhea, nausea, back pain, headache, anorexia, hypertension, hemiparesis, and loss of consciousness (Table 2).

Table 2 Summary of mesenteric segmental arterial mediolysis reported to date.
Case (n)Ref.Age (yr)Gender (Male/Female)Risk factorsSymptomsVessels InvolvedCTAngiographyPathologyTreatmentAnti-hypertensive drugAnti-coagulantsOutcome
1[48]65FN/AAbdominal painSMAN/ABeaded appearance and stenosis of the MCALysis and destruction in the media and intimaResection of aneurysm in MCAN/AN/AImproved
2[49]56FN/AAbdominal painIMAIntraabdominal hemorrhageAneurysm in IMAN/ALeft hemicolectomyN/AN/AImproved
3[50]78MN/AAbdominal pain, diarrhea, shockSMAN/AN/ADestruction of the tunica interna and media in MCAEmergent surgery (right hemicolectomy); a large hematoma and a ruptured aneurysm upon the surgeryN/AN/AImproved
4[51]35FN/AAbdominal pain, perforation on transverse colonSMAOcclusion of the mesenteric vein and ischemic colitisUnremarkableSegmental vacuolar degeneration of smooth muscle with areas of wall thinningResection of terminal ileumN/AN/ADied
5[52]52MN/ASudden hemiparesis, hypertensionCeliac, SMA, IMA hepatic arteryAneurysm in the celiac, hepatic, SMAAneurysms in celiac, SMA, ICA, hepatic; stenoses in celiac and SMAMultiple segmental mediolysis lesions of the muscular and elastic fibers of the mediaReconstruction of hepatic and celiac artery using autologous saphenous vein graftN/AN/AImproved
6[53]49MN/AAbdominal pain, shockSMALarge hematoma surrounding a high-density aneurysmBeaded appearance in SMAMultifocal fragmentation of the elastic fibers of the mediaRight hemicolectomyN/AN/AImproved
7[54]57MN/AAbdominal painSMA, hepaticSmall aneurysm at the middle colic artery and mesenteric hematomaAneurysm and stenosis of the celiac, SMA, hepatic arteryN/AEmbolization with N-butyl cyanoacrylate for aneurysm in the SMAN/AN/AImproved
8[54]76FN/AAbdominal pain, nauseaIMAMesenteric hematomaAneurysm in IMAN/AEmbolization with coilN/AN/ADied
9[55]59MN/AAbdominal pain, shockSMA, RA, gastroepiploic, splenicSMA dissection, aneurysm in RA, gastroepiploic, splenic artery; rupture of the splenic aneurysmSaccular aneurysms and multiple stenotic region in gastroepiploic arteryMedial island spared from mediolysisEmergency embolization of the splenic artery, resection of aneurysm in the gastroepiploicN/AN/AImproved
10[56]57MN/AAbdominal pain, diarrheaSMAAscites throughout the abdomenAneurysm in SMAN/ATranscatheter arterial embolizationN/AN/AImproved
11[57]60MN/AN/ASMARupture of the aneurysm of the MCAMultiple beaded patters and aneurysm in SMAN/ASurgical resectionN/AN/AImproved
12[47]25FN/AAnorexia, abdominal pain, diarrheaSMA, hepaticIschemic colitis of the splenic flexureOcclusion of IMA; stenoses of the hepatic arteryPatchy, isolated destruction of the arterial media involving both the internal and external elastic laminaePartial colectomy of the splenic flexureN/AN/AImproved
13[58]53MN/ANoneCeliac, SMA, splenicAneurysm in splenic, celiac, SMA; dissection in the celiac.Aneurysm in the celiac, splenic, and SMAN/AEmbolization with coil and aortic stent graftN/AN/AImproved
14[59]51MN/AAbdominal pain, shockSMA, IMAAbdominal hemorrhageActive bleeding from SMAN/AEmbolization and ligation of the branches of the SMAN/AWarfarinImproved
15[60]29FN/AHypertensionSMA, RA, hepaticRenal cortical nephrogramsScattered microaneurysms in SMA, RA, hepatic arterySegmental lesions of the media with loss of smooth muscle cellsAnti-coagulantsN/AWarfarinImproved
16[61]55FN/AAbdominal painCeliac, SMA, hepatic, splenicUnremarkable in vesselsAneurysms in celiac, SMA, hepatic, splenic arteryN/AAnti-coagulantsN/AWarfarin followed by aspirinImproved
17[62]56MN/AAbdominal pain, shockSMAAneurysm in MCA, SMA dissectionSaccular aneurysms in the MCA; dissections in the SMAN/AEmbolization with coilN/AN/AImproved
18[63]64FN/AAbdominal pain, back pain, nauseaSMA, IMA, hepaticHematoma in the anterior pararenal space inferior to pancreatic tail; bleeding from aneurysmMultiple aneurysms in the SMA, IMA, hepatic arteryN/AConservativeN/AN/AImproved
19[64]60FHypoxiaHypoxia, hypotension, cardiopulmonary arrestSMALarge hematoma in the retroperitoneal and intraperitoneal space; SMA aneurysmAneurysms and beaded appearance in the SMAN/AConservativeN/AN/AImproved
20[65]36MN/AAbdominal painCeliac, hepatic, anterior inferior pancreaticoduodenal arteryStenosis and aneurysms in anterior inferior pancreatic duodenal arteryAneurysms and beaded like appearance in the anterior inferior pancreaticoduodenal arteryN/AEmbolization with coilN/AN/AImproved
21[66]47MN/ALoss of consciousness, headache, abdominal painSMASAH, massive intraperitoneal hematomaBeaded like appearance in SMA; dissection in VAMedial islands and medial degenerations in SMAEmbolization with coil for VA and SMA. Surgical resection of part of middle colic artery and descending colon.N/AN/AImproved
22[67]79MN/AAbdominal pain, hypotensionIMAActive bleeding from IMA and hemorrhageN/AReduplication of the internal elastic lamina with arterial dissection within the tunica media and thrombus at the site of ruptureSurgical resection of left colic arteryN/AN/AImproved
23[68]40MN/AAbdominal painCeliac, SMAExtensive dissection of SMA with the thrombotic occlusion. stenosis and dilation of celiac arteryN/AN/AConservativeN/AN/AImproved
24[69]32MN/AAbdominal painIMA, RAAneurysm in renal and IMA, massive amount of hemorrhageStenosis and aneurysm in the RAMedia shows myxoid degeneration in the outer one-third adjacent to the adventitiaSurgical hemostasis and left hemicolectomyYes, N/AN/AImproved
25[70]58MN/AAbdominal painSMAMesenteric hematoma and right inguinal hernia with unremarkable small bowelBeaded like appearance in SMAN/AImmunosuppressive therapyN/AN/AImproved
26[71]57MN/AHypertension, abdominal painSMAArterial dissection with luminal stenosis and aneurysm formation at the distal portion of the SMASegmental dilatation, aneurysm in the SMAVacuolization and decrease in the number of vascular smooth musclesAneurysmectomy and bowel resectionCa-blockerN/AImproved

With the development of various imaging modalities, it has been reported that, in various combinations, SAM typically affects splenic, celiac, hepatic, mesenteric, and renal arteries in the abdominal lesion[47,72]. Because of the involvement of the celiac artery, splenic arterial aneurysm is frequently found, and its rupture could affect the prognosis. Angiography reveals aneurysms, dissections, occlusions, and stenosis; however, the findings could overlap with those found in collagen vascular diseases and FMD. Therefore, the differential diagnoses between the vascular diseases are based on the histopathological findings. SAM is difficult to distinguish from FMD, although FMD shows predominance in young women and affects renal arteries causing hypertension, whereas SAM commonly affects the celiac arteries. In addition, the clinical course shows ischemic changes in FMD, whereas SAM often causes profuse bleeding from the intestinal arteries. However, these findings often overlap each other; therefore, accumulation of more detailed information is necessary.


Although the suspicion of SAM is the basis of clinical and radiological features, the gold standard for diagnosis is a pathological finding involving injurious and reparative phases in the arterial lesions of the surgical specimens. These injurious states include mediolysis, separation of the outer media, and formation of arterial gaps; key is that there is no evidence of inflammation. These changes reflect the vascular aneurysms frequently found as angiographic features of this condition. Commonly, the inflammatory markers are negative and genetic diagnosis for collagen vascular disorders shows a normal pattern.


The long-term prognosis is unclear, and no standard therapeutic strategy has been proposed, to date; however, given that some SAM cases showed sudden the onset of aneurysm rupture, the condition could be life threatening. Therefore, SAM treatment includes embolization, bypass, and resection of the injured arteries. In addition, anti-hypertensive therapy[28] could prevent further worsening of the arterial lesions. Anti-coagulation therapy is uncommon, and only a few cases have been reported to date[59-61]. In addition, given it is a noninflammatory disorder, no evidence of efficacy in use of anti-inflammatory agents or immunosuppressive agents has been reported. However, SAM has been treated with these agents when the differential diagnosis from the other arteritis was difficult[70].

For patients presenting acutely with intra-abdominal hemorrhage, patients are treated with emergent catheter angiography, endovascular intervention, or surgical treatment[73].

Shenouda reported that coil embolization was the most common endovascular intervention and was reported as successful in 88% of patients, with no mortality, whereas the open surgical approach was associated with a 9% mortality rate[72]. In our patient summary, open surgery was most commonly performed, and this was performed on 13 patients (50%). Endovascular intervention was performed on eight patients (31%), and anti-coagulation therapy was administered to two patients (7.7%), including warfarin and aspirin administration. Anti-hypertensive therapy was administered to one patient with Ca-blocker.


Although the prognosis of the disease is reported to be good when managed appropriately[72], SAM can be fatal when ruptured[49,73]. Therefore, a careful diagnosis and appropriate management are essential for this disease entity. Our case summary also showed that although 24 (92%) patients improved, 2 (7.7%) patients died, 1 having had a large hematoma and a ruptured aneurysm in the mesenteric lesion that was revealed upon the emergent surgery.


The inner wall of a normal artery is smooth and in the normal condition, blood flows through it without difficulty. The major cause of decreasing the blood flow is atherosclerosis which is due to the deposits of fatty materials, such as cholesterol, developing the thickened arterial walls and stenosis of the vasculatures. These changes cause ischemic changes in the organs fed by the vasculatures and if it occurred in the abdominal mesenteric lesions, the symptoms of severe abdominal pain, ischemic changes of the intestine could be observed leading to lethality. For other vascular diseases including aneurysm, occlusion, and thromboses in the mesenteric lesions could cause severe symptoms and appropriate diagnosis and treatment are essential for managing patients. With the development and improvement of imaging modalities, including CT and magnetic resonance imaging, the frequency of diagnosis of vascular disease in abdominal lesions is increasing. Among these, FMD and SAM are known as noninflammatory, nonatherosclerotic arterial diseases, difficult to be differentially diagnosed from each other. Although various arteries are involved in these diseases, we have focused on the mesenteric areas, reviewing cases in this study and summarizing the clinical characteristics of both disease entities (Table 3).

Table 3 Clinical characteristic of the fibromuscular dysplasia and segmental arterial mediolysis.
Fibromuscular dysplasiaSegmental arterial mediolysis
GenderFemale (9:1)[2]No presentation[74]
Age of presentationYoung to middle age[2]No preference[74]
Laboratory findingsNo serological markers[74]No serological markers[74]
Risk factorsSmoking and extracranial arteries[4]Hypoxia and shock or other vasoconstrictor stimuli[47]
Vascular distributionRenal and extracranial arteries[4]Celiac and mesenteric arteries[48]
CTAlternating stenosis and aneurysms, less commonly dissections[38]Dissections with alternating stenosis and aneurysms, dissecting aneurysms[48]
AngiographyBeaded aneurysmal appearance (string-of-beads)[38]Beaded aneurysmal appearance (string-of-beads)[38]
PathologyFibrous or fibromuscular thickening of the arterial wall[38]Vecuolization and lysis of the outer media[47]
SymptomsRenovascular hypertension, Headache, Pulsatile tinnitus[4]Acute abdominal pain, Intraperitoneal bleeding[47]
TreatmentAnti-platelet therapy and anti-hypertensive therapy. Balloon angioplasty and stenting[45]Anti-hypertensive therapy and endovascular management, surgical management[74]

The histologic findings and the imaging findings of FMD and SAM are similar; for example, Lie proposed that SAM can represent a precursor of certain types of FMD[74]. Slavin and colleagues also proposed that SAM could represent a precursor of FMD, although a part of SAM might remain as unspecified aneurysms[46]. Although these similarities in radiological and histological diagnoses have been reported, the two entities exhibit a different clinical profile in terms of age of onset, sex, distribution of affected arteries, and clinical symptoms. Although FMD affects middle-aged women, there is no predilection for age or sex in SAM[2,73].

Considering the mesenteric lesions, as there are no specific symptoms, a greater knowledge and comprehensive understanding of these diseases are important for appropriate diagnosis and treatment. For example, FMD rarely shows significant symptoms and is frequently associated with symptoms of occlusive disease such as renovascular hypertension, headache, and pulsatile tinnitus. Although FMD does not rupture as often, SAM shows hemorrhages resulting from arterial rupture or dissection from the weakened arterial wall[4,46] and is therefore symptomatic with acute abdominal and flank pain.


Mesenteric vascular diseases are rare compared with other disease entities in lesions; therefore, clinical information is insufficient and clinical trials to develop the standard therapy are lacking. Therefore, an accumulation of cases and a summary of the clinical characteristics of reported cases are important. For this purpose, we have summarized the characteristics of FMD and SAM in abdominal lesions. This information could help physicians to appropriately diagnose and treat cases, including consultation with interventional radiologists and surgeons.


Manuscript source: Invited manuscript

Specialty type: Gastroenterology and hepatology

Country of origin: Japan

Peer-review report classification

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P- Reviewer: M’Koma AE S- Editor: Wang XJ L- Editor: A E- Editor: Yin SY

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