The mesenteric lymph nodes location is in the walls of the intestines and stomach, in between the (the membrane that attaches the intestine to the abdominal wall) layers.

The membrane provides lubrication so that the organs can move within the abdominal cavity. There are between 100-150 nodes located in this area. When these lymph nodes have enlargement or swelling, it is known as mesenteric lymphadenitis.

Swollen lymph nodes in this area usually shrink on their own within a few days and usually not severe. It is rare, but swelling of the nodes between the mesentery layers can be because of cancer.

Lymph Node Function

The body has between 500 and 700 lymph nodes throughout the body that are constantly filtering lymph fluid. It is an important part of the immune system because debris, bacteria, cancer cells, etc. are trappedĀ  to protect the body in the lymph nodes. When the nodes become overwhelmed, they may become enlarged.

Commonly they will return to normal size once the infection or other illness passes. Sometimes, like in the case of cancer, a Lymphadenectomy will need to be done to remove the affected lymph nodes for a biopsy to accurately diagnose and stage cancer. It is rare for the mesenteric lymph nodes to be cancerous, but it does occur. There are other causes for these nodes to swell.

Swollen Mesenteric Lymph Nodes Causes

Most people don’t even realize when their mesenteric lymph nodes begin to swell. They may experience pain similar to an appendicitis attack or other stomach problems. Often the symptoms will pass without treatment. Sometimes the related infection or illness will need to be treated for the symptoms to disappear. Cancer of these lymph nodes rarely is the cause of them becoming swollen.

Cancer

When the cause is cancer, it can be from widespread cancer or cancer in the gastrointestinal tract. More common causes of swollen lymph nodes in the mesentery layers include the following:

  • Large intestine infection
  • Bacterial, viral or parasitic infection of the intestines
  • Lower abdomen abscesses
  • Peritonitis

Usually swollen mesenteric lymph nodes occur in children or teens, and it is known as mesenteric lymphadenitis.

Mesenteric Lymphadenitis

When the lymph nodes in the mesentery layers are swollen, a person will be diagnosed with lymphadenitis. It usually occurs when a scan is done for some other illness and during the procedure, it is discovered that the mesenteric lymph nodes are enlarged. Once a diagnosis is made, further tests will be done to determine the cause and what the most effective the course of treatment will be, if treatment is required. Often no treatment is needed. The difference between a disease attack and lymphadenitis is that the symptoms disappear on their own when the cause is these, and the nodes return to normal size, usually without an intervention, but an appendicitis attack will need to be treated.

Conclusion

It is rare that swollen or enlarged mesenteric lymph nodes will need to be removed for biopsy or need any other treatment. Often once the related infection (bacterial, viral, or parasitic) is treated there are no further symptoms or problems with the lymph nodes. In rare cases, it can be from cancer and only a medical professional will need to make a diagnosis.