Someone with pain in their stomach

Superior mesenteric artery syndrome (SMA syndrome) is a digestive condition that occurs when the part of the small intestine that connects to the stomach is pinched by two arteries.

The pinching makes it harder for digested food and liquids to flow through the digestive system, and can actually cause the digestive system to back up. This can cause damage to the digestive system and possibly severe pain.

Symptoms can be different from person to person. This can lead to misdiagnosis, long-term pain and mental anguish. In severe cases, the pain can be debilitating, making it feel impossible to do ordinary tasks.

If you have digestive issues and abdominal pain but haven't been able to find a reason why, our team can help you determine if it is SMA syndrome.

At the UM Heart and Vascular Center, our team has access to the latest diagnostics tools, which will help us to see exactly what is happening in your body and help us make an accurate diagnosis. If SMA syndrome is diagnosed, our team will help you find the best course of treatment.

To make an appointment with our team or to learn more about our program, call 410-328-5840.


SMA syndrome symptoms will be different for each person. It can develop slowly over time, with a gradual increase of pain and other symptoms. It can also happen suddenly, coming from seemingly nowhere.

Common symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abnormal weight loss
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting


Our imaging specialists have access to the latest in diagnostic technology, allowing us to see what's happening inside your body without having to make an incision.

Diagnostic equipment we may use includes:

  • Angiogram: this allows us to see inside your blood vessels. It is an outpatient procedure done in our office.
  • Doppler ultrasound: this allows us to see your blood flow in real time
  • CT scan: we take x-ray images from several different angles to build a 3D picture of what is happening inside your body
  • MRI: this allows us to create detailed images of your veins


Our vascular surgery team works with other medical and surgical specialists to develop the best treatment plan for you. Because symptoms are caused by blood vessels pinching a part of the small intestine, it is important to have a team which includes vascular and abdominal specialists.

Weight gain can sometimes reverse symptoms, giving the small intestine more padding and forcing the arteries to pinch less.

Other times, surgery is needed. This could be a minimally invasive procedure to clear the blockage. We may also suggest surgery to bypass the blockage.

Our team will discuss all treatment options with you to find the best approach to your specific needs.

Make an Appointment

If your symptoms or your loved one's are similar to these but you haven't been diagnosed with SMA syndrome, we encourage you to call 410-328-5840 to speak with our team or to make an appointment.