Mesenteric Adenitis—Child

(Mesenteric Lymphadenitis)

How to Say It: Mez-un-ter-ik Lim-fad-un-ni-tis


Mesenteric adenitis is when lymph nodes in the abdomen swell. Lymph nodes are small, round glands. They help fight infection. Infections sometimes make the nodes swell. When nodes in the abdomen swell, it can cause pain.

Normal Anatomy of the Intestines

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Mesenteric adenitis is often caused by an infection in the stomach or intestines. Viruses are the most common cause of these infections. However, some may be due to bacteria.

Risk Factors

The risk of mesenteric adenitis is highest in children.


Symptoms often follow a cold. They may include:

  • Pain in the belly, often the lower, right side
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea


The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.

The child may be given blood and urine tests.

Images may be taken of the child’s body structures. This can be done with:


Mesenteric adenitis is usually not serious. Symptoms go away in a few days to weeks. Treatment options may be:

  • Over-the-counter pain medicine—to ease discomfort
  • Antibiotics—rarely, if there is a lasting bacterial infection


The risk of mesenteric adenitis may be reduced by:

  • Washing hands often
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick


Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics


Caring for Kids—Canadian Paediatric Society


Acute abdominal pain in children aged 6-11 years - approach to the patient. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed April 6, 2021.
Gross I, Siedner-Weintraub Y, et al. Characteristics of mesenteric lymphadenitis in comparison with those of acute appendicitis in children. Eur J Pediatr. 2017;176(2):199-205.
Mesenteric adenitis. Patient UK website. Available at: Accessed April 6, 2021.
Mesenteric adenitis. Radiopaediag website. Available at: Accessed April 6, 2021.
Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 4/6/2021

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