Clinico-pathologic findings in patients with median arcuate ligament syndrome (celiac artery compression syndrome)

Manita Chaum, Daniel Shouhed, Stacey Kim, Ann E. Walts, Alberto M. Marchevsky

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome (MALS) is a rare entity characterized by severe post-prandial epigastric pain, nausea, vomiting, and/or weight loss. Symptoms have been attributed to vascular compression (celiac artery compression syndrome, CACS), but it remains controversial whether they could be secondary to neural compression. Literature review identified rare description of pathologic findings in surgery journals. The clinico-pathologic findings of four MALS patients who underwent robotic or laparoscopic surgery in our hospital are described. All our patients were female with a median age of 32.5 (range 25–55 years), and a median BMI of 23.5 kg/m2. They presented with chronic often post-prandial abdominal pain (4/4), nausea (3/4), emesis (2/4), anorexia (1/4), and weight loss (1/4). Two patients had a history of Crohn's disease. At intraoperative exploration, the celiac artery and adjacent nerves and ganglia were encased and partially compressed by fibrotic tissue in each patient. In each case laparoscopic excision of fibrotic tissue, celiac plexus and ligament division and was performed; celiac plexus nerve block was also performed in one patient. After surgical intervention, symptoms improved in three of the patients whose specimens show periganglionic and perineural fibrosis with proliferation of small nerve fibers. Our findings support neurogenic compression as a contributing factor in the development of pain and other MALS symptoms, and favor the use of MALS rather than CACS as diagnostic terminology. To further study the pathogenesis of this unusual syndrome, surgeons should submit all tissues excised during MALS procedures for histopathologic examination.

Original languageEnglish
Article number151732
JournalAnnals of Diagnostic Pathology
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Celiac artery compression syndrome
  • Celiac plexus
  • Chronic abdominal pain
  • Median arcuate ligament syndrome
  • Nerve block
  • Traumatic neuroma


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