Histologic Spectrum of Arterial and Arteriolar Lesions in Acute and Chronic Cocaine-Induced Mesenteric Ischemia: Report of Three Cases and Literature Review

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Gastrointestinal complications of cocaine abuse occur less frequently than those of the cardiovascular and nervous systems. The clinical history and pathologic findings of three patients with cocaine-induced mesenteric ischemia are described, and the mechanism of acute and chronic cocaine-induced mesenteric ischemia is discussed. The role of preoperative angiography in detecting occlusive arterial lesions so that arterial revascularization can be carried out is emphasized. Briefly, recent intravenous cocaine use in a 45-year-old man resulted in sharply demarcated small intestinal ischemia with perforation characterized by pseudomembranous enteritis. Histologic sections of the small-bowel resection showed intraluminal fibrin and intimal hyperplasia in rare submucosal arterioles. Two women, 29 and 35 years of age, both with a 2-year history of intravenous cocaine use, presented with acute abdominal pain and had angiographic documentation of occlusion of the celiac axis and the superior mesenteric arteries. Vascular bypasses were performed in both cases. Microscopic examination of both arteries and their branches revealed total obstruction by luminal thrombus with recanalization.

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