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Intestinal Lymphangiectasia

What is Intestinal Lymphangiectasia?

Intestinal lymphangiectasia affects children and young adults. It is an abnormality of lymphatic channels (the tubular system of channels that transports fats from the small intestine to the liver and other organs). When the lymphatic channels become blocked they become very dilated and rupture and discharge their contents into the colon.

What are the causes of Intestinal Lymphangiectasia?

Intestinal lymphangiectasia can be congenital or acquired. The acquired forms are usually due to some form of infiltrative or mechanical process such as amyloidosis or malignancy.

Symptoms of Intestinal Lymphangiectasia

  • swelling of the lower limbs, also known as edema
  • mild diarrhea or steatorrhea
  • weight loss, fatigue, and abdominal pain

Diagnosis of Intestinal Lymphangiectasia

  • Endoscopic examination
  • Blood tests indicate a significant protein loss.
  • Leakage of lymphatic juices into the small bowel

The diagnosis is confirmed by taking a biopsy from the lining of the small intestine, which shows typical gross dilatation of the lymphatic vessels.

Treatment of Intestinal Lymphangiectasia

Patients are treated with a low fat diet; normal fat is replaced with medium chain triglycerides.