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Mesenteric Adenitis



  • Mesenteric adenitis means that lymph nodes in the belly are swollen and sore. It is most common in children and teens and in older adults.
  • Treatment is not always needed, but when it is, the treatment depends on why the nodes are enlarged.
  • Ask your child’s healthcare provider what symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them.


What is mesenteric adenitis?

Mesenteric adenitis means that lymph nodes in the mesentery are swollen and sore. It can cause belly pain in children, teens, and older adults.

The lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped organs. They are part of the lymph system, which is part of your body's system for fighting infection. You have lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, groin, and mesentery. The mesentery is the tissue that holds the intestines in place in the belly.

Another name for this condition is mesenteric lymphadenitis.

What causes mesenteric adenitis?

Mesenteric adenitis may be caused by infection or inflammation. The lymph nodes in the belly get bigger when they fight germs such as bacteria and viruses. Rarely, they become enlarged because of cancer.

Once the lymph nodes become enlarged, they may not go back to their normal size for many weeks.

What are the symptoms?

Signs and symptoms of mesenteric adenitis may include:

  • Belly pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Poor appetite

If your child’s belly pain is severe or if your child has any of the following symptoms, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible:

  • Nausea, fever, or not able to keep food down for several days
  • Blood in the bowel movements
  • Trouble breathing
  • Vomiting blood
  • Belly is sore to the touch
  • Pain is after an injury to the belly in the last few days
  • Pain lasts for several days

How is it diagnosed?

Your child’s healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history and examine your child. Because abdominal pain may be caused by appendicitis, a urinary tract infection, or other problems, your child may have tests such as:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • CT scan, which uses X-rays and a computer to show detailed pictures of the organs in the belly
  • Ultrasound, which uses sound waves to show pictures of the belly
  • Lymph node biopsy, which is the removal of a small sample of tissue for testing

How is it treated?

Treatment is not always needed, but when it is, the treatment depends on what is causing the nodes to be enlarged.

How can I take care of my child?

Follow your child’s healthcare provider’s instructions. Ask your provider:

  • How long it will take your child to recover
  • If there are activities your child should avoid and when your child can return to normal activities
  • How to take care of your child at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them

Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup.

Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2018.1 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2017-05-10
Last reviewed: 2016-12-19
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2018 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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