How is mesenteric adenitis diagnosed?
Usually, it is diagnosed from your symptoms and a doctor's examination. If you have (or your child has) typical symptoms and there are no signs of anything else causing the pain then your doctor may think that mesenteric adenitis is likely.
It is difficult to prove the diagnosis, because the glands are deep in the tummy (abdomen) and cannot be seen or felt. So the diagnosis often involves excluding other problems which could cause this type of pain, and then making a presumed diagnosis of mesenteric adenitis.
If the diagnosis is not clear, your doctor may suggest:
- Wait and see, with another check by your doctor a few hours later to see if the symptoms have changed.
- A second opinion - for example, a referral to hospital for a surgeon's opinion.
- Tests to look for other conditions (see below).
Are any tests needed?
There is no specific test that proves a definite diagnosis of mesenteric adenitis. However, some tests may help in diagnosing other conditions which could be causing the pain. For example, blood tests, a urine test for infection, or scans (ultrasound or CT scan). These tests may show features that suggest the diagnosis of mesenteric adenitis.
If the diagnosis is still not clear and there is a risk of you having a more serious condition such as acute appendicitis then you may need an operation to make sure. This is usually keyhole surgery (laparoscopy) but sometimes a more extensive operation (laparotomy) is needed to check for any serious condition.
Note: if there is any possibility that you could be pregnant, a pregnancy test is essential. This is because the serious condition called ectopic pregnancy, which can occur in early pregnancy, may cause symptoms similar to mesenteric adenitis. See separate leaflet called Ectopic Pregnancy for more details.
Further reading and references
Kim JS; Acute Abdominal Pain in Children. Pediatr Gastroenterol Hepatol Nutr. 2013 Dec16(4):219-224. Epub 2013 Dec 31.
Humes DJ, Simpson J; Acute appendicitis. BMJ. 2006 Sep 9333(7567):530-4.
Groselj-Grenc M, Repse S, Vidmar D, et al; Clinical and laboratory methods in diagnosis of acute appendicitis in children. Croat Med J. 2007 Jun48(3):353-61.
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