Median arcuate ligament syndrome, a rare case of chronic abdominal pain

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Fania Puccia
Roberto Citarrella
Filippo Alessandro Montalto
Luigi Mirarchi
Antonino Terranova
Antonietta Serruto
Roberto Citarrella
Giuseppe Lo Re
Maurizio Soresi *
(*) Corresponding Author:
Maurizio Soresi |


The median arcuate ligament syndrome (MALS) is a rare disease characterized by abdominal pain caused by the external compression of the celiac artery by the median arcuate ligament. Surgical treatment is indicated, but given the non-specific symptoms, these patients are often hospitalized in the Departments of Internal Medicine where the diagnosis may be unknown. We present a case of MALS admitted to our Internal Medicine Division. An abdominal ultrasound in a woman with longstanding abdominal pain showed elevated celiac artery velocities during forced expiration. Computed tomography angiography (CTA) of the abdomen showed stenosis of the origin of the celiac artery and confirmed the diagnosis of MALS. MALS is a syndrome that has to be considered, especially in young women with abdominal pain of unclear etiology; evaluated by color Doppler ultrasound, in the presence of elevated hepatic artery velocities during forced expiration, the confirmatory test is CTA.

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