Coeliac artery stenosis--also known as coeliac artery compression syndrome--is an unusual abnormality that results in a severe decrease in the amount of blood that reaches the stomach and abdominal region. Seen most often in young, underweight women, coeliac artery stenosis sufferers display a number of distinct symptoms. The condition is not completely understood and treatment options are controversial.
Coeliac artery stenosis is a condition in which the coeliac artery--a major artery in the abdomen that provides bloodflow to the stomach, liver, pancreas and small intestine--is compressed by the abnormal development of the median arcuate ligament. As the ligament pushes onto the coeliac artery, it restricts that amount of blood the artery delivers to the abdominal area, causing a variety of symptoms.
The most common symptoms of coeliac artery stenosis are gastrointestinal and include abdominal pain after eating, often severe weight loss and a sharp, persistent pain in the upper section of the abdomen.
Another unusual symptom of coeliac artery stenosis is the presence of an abdominal bruit. An abdominal bruit is a murmur--an abnormal sound in the flow of blood--that can be detected by listening with a stethoscope over the part of the abdomen where the abdominal aorta lies.
The exact cause of coeliac artery stenosis remains unknown; however, medical researchers have determined that abnormal placement of the ligament that is responsible for the condition is present at birth. Other research that indicates twins have a higher incidence of having the defect than non-twins, suggests that the problem begins with abnormal development of the embryo or foetus in the uterus.
The main treatment for coeliac artery stenosis is surgery in which the median arcuate ligament's compression of the coeliac artery is removed. However, the procedure remains controversial since not all sufferers of the condition experience an alleviation of symptoms after the surgery has been performed.