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Mesenteric Adenitis—Child

(Mesenteric Lymphadenitis)

How to Say It: Mez-un-ter-ik Lim-fad-un-ni-tis

Definition

Mesenteric adenitis is when lymph nodes in the abdomen swell. Lymph nodes are small, round glands. They help fight infection. Infections sometimes make the nodes swell. When nodes in the abdomen swell, it can cause pain.

Normal Anatomy of the Intestines

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Mesenteric adenitis is often caused by an infection in the stomach or intestines. Viruses are the most common cause of these infections. However, some may be due to bacteria.

Risk Factors

The risk of mesenteric adenitis is highest in children.

Symptoms

Symptoms often follow a cold. They may include:

  • Pain in the belly, often the lower, right side
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.

The child may be given blood and urine tests.

Images may be taken of the child’s body structures. This can be done with:

Treatment

Mesenteric adenitis is usually not serious. Symptoms go away in a few days to weeks. Treatment options may be:

  • Over-the-counter pain medicine—to ease discomfort
  • Antibiotics—rarely, if there is a lasting bacterial infection

Prevention

The risk of mesenteric adenitis may be reduced by:

  • Washing hands often
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
RESOURCES:

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
https://www.familydoctor.org

Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
https://www.healthychildren.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Caring for Kids—Canadian Paediatric Society
https://www.caringforkids.cps.ca

Health Canada
https://www.canada.ca

REFERENCES:

Acute abdominal pain in children aged 6-11 years - approach to the patient. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/approach-to/acute-abdominal-pain-in-children-aged-6-11-years-approach-to-the-patient. Accessed April 6, 2021.

Gross I, Siedner-Weintraub Y, et al. Characteristics of mesenteric lymphadenitis in comparison with those of acute appendicitis in children. Eur J Pediatr. 2017;176(2):199-205.

Mesenteric adenitis. Patient UK website. Available at: https://patient.info/health/mesenteric-adenitis. Accessed April 6, 2021.

Mesenteric adenitis. Radiopaediag website. Available at: https://radiopaedia.org/articles/mesenteric-adenitis. Accessed April 6, 2021.

Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD, FACP  Last Updated: 4/6/2021