Superior mesenteric artery syndrome: a single centre experience of laparoscopic duodenojejunostomy as the operation of choice

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The superior mesenteric artery (SMA) syndrome, or Wilkie's syndrome, is a rare cause of postprandial epigastric pain, vomiting and weight loss caused by compression of the third part of the duodenum as it passes beneath the proximal superior mesenteric artery. The syndrome may be precipitated by sudden weight loss secondary to other pathologies, such as trauma, malignancy or eating disorders. Diagnosis is confirmed by angiography, which reveals a reduced aorto-SMA angle and distance, and contrast studies showing duodenal obstruction.


Conservative management aims to increase intra-abdominal fat by dietary manipulation and thereby increase the angle between the SMA and aorta. Where surgery is indicated, division of the ligament of Treitz, anterior transposition of the third part of the duodenum and duodenojejunostomy have been described.


We present four cases of SMA syndrome where the intention of treatment was laparoscopic duodenojejunostomy. The procedure was completed successfully in three patients, who recovered quickly with no short-term complications. A fourth patient underwent open gastrojejunostomy (complicated by an anastomotic bleed) when dense adhesions prevented duodenojejunostomy.


The superior mesenteric artery syndrome should be considered in patients with epigastric pain, prolonged vomiting and weight loss. Laparoscopic duodenojejunostomy is a safe and effective operation for management of the syndrome. A multi-speciality team approach including gastrointestinal, vascular and radiological specialists should be invoked in the management of these patients.

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