Mesenteric panniculitis, a rare cause of acute surgical abdomen in children. Case report and literature review

Vol. 58 No. 4, 2017


Elena Tarca, Mioara-Florentina Trandafirescu, Elena Cojocaru, Doina Mihaila, Bogdan Savu

Mesenteric panniculitis appears as a less known benign condition due to its infrequency and not fully elucidated etiology; currently, less than 20 cases in children have been reported. It is characterized by a fibrotic and inflammatory transformation of the mesentery fat of the small intestine and, less commonly, of the colon. The 8-year-old patient whose case we report presented in our Service complaining of acute digestive symptoms. A causality relation with the small yet frequent injuries the child suffered at the abdominal level during his sports practice may be hypothesized, although this correlation cannot be proven. Laboratory test values are usually within the normal range in such patients, yet the inflammatory values are sometimes high, just as in our case. The imagistic diagnostic workup detected a solid mass at the level of the hepatic colic flexure, with a non-homogenous structure, with fine contrast uptake in the walls; perilesional fatty infiltration with misty mesentery appearance; infracentimetric adenopathies located in the mesentery root. The tumor was surgically excised and intestinal anastomosis was performed. Achieving the final pathological diagnosis of mesenteric panniculitis was a difficult task, as it required several differential diagnoses, by ruling out a local vasculitis process and an idiopathic inflammatory Crohn s-like disease. The patient s post-operative evolution was positive. The follow-up examinations at one month, six months, one year and two years showed a good general condition, a good nutrition state and clinical-paraclinical test results within normal values. A significant association of mesenteric panniculitis to other malignancies, as well as a predisposition of these patients to the subsequent occurrence of neoplasms has been noted in adults. As these findings have not yet been proven in children, due to the small number of cases and the absence of prospective studies, long-term monitoring is an absolute must.

Corresponding author: Mioara-Florentina Trandafirescu, Lecturer, MD, PhD; e-mail:

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