Indexed on: 01 Jan '09Published on: 01 Jan '09Published in: Case reports in gastroenterology
Sclerosing mesenteritis is associated with a spectrum of diseases which include mesenteric lipodystrophy and mesenteric panniculitis. This inflammatory and fibrosing disorder can affect the small and large bowel wall and mesenteric vessels by exerting a mass effect. The following case highlights the difficulties with diagnosing and managing this unusual disease. A 64-year-old man presented with acute central abdominal pain, radiating to his back, and profuse vomiting. He was diagnosed clinically with small bowel obstruction. He had had an episode of small bowel obstruction 6 years earlier. At this time, he underwent an exploratory laparotomy, and a mass was identified in the small bowel mesentery. The features were thought to be in keeping with sclerosing mesenteritis. He had a dramatically favourable response to the initiation of prednisolone. He continued to be well and asymptomatic for a further 5 years on long-term maintenance low-dose steroids and 6-mercaptopurine. He re-presented in 2009 (six years after initial presentation) with very severe acute abdominal pain and vomiting. He had no recent change in weight or appetite, and had not had time off work. He underwent a second laparotomy and the tissue diagnosis was of metastatic carcinoid tumour involving the small bowel mesentery. This is the first case to our knowledge where sclerosing mesenteritis has been confirmed histologically on biopsy and then subsequently diagnosed with histologically proven carcinoid tumour. For this particular reason it must be always remembered that sclerosing mesenteritis is a 'pathological' and not a radiological diagnosis and that a large proportion of cases are associated with neoplasia.