When Courtney Dale first became sick to her stomach, she thought she'd overexerted herself.
But the pain, which she describes as "someone taking my stomach and twisting it," became a daily occurrence, especially after she ate. Over the next two years, she missed 180 days of her sophomore year and her entire junior year of high school.
"I went to so many doctors and they couldn't find anything. It was very frustrating," the 17-year-old says.
It took two years and a slew of tests to find out she has Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome (MALS), which is where the celiac artery, an artery just below the diaphragm, is compressed by a ligament, affecting the blood supply.
"The big blood vessel that supplies the digestive tract is surrounded by (the median arcuate ligament) and this ligament is so tight that it forms a noose around your artery," says Dr. Donald Liu, surgeon-in-chief at the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital, which he says leads the nation in MALS surgeries.
The condition is rare and hard to diagnose, so Courtney's story is not unique, which is why she wanted to share it. Courtney and her mother, Marsha, had never heard of MALS, but say they want people to know about this condition and not to give up if they have undiagnosed stomach pain.
"That is the scary thing," says Marsha Dale. "There are kids suffering and I want more awareness. If I had given up, I don't know what would have happened."
Chronic stomach pain is one of the most confounding medical problems in America and it's a big industry, says Liu.
Often, doctors are not able to diagnose the reason for the pain, so they treat the symptom, not the problem, he says.
With MALS, people can have pain for years before it is diagnosed, says Dr. Zachary Schmittling, a vascular surgeon with Ferrell-Duncan Clinic in Springfield.
The symptoms include severe stomach pain, usually after eating, and weight loss, says Schmittling.
Some have vomiting or diarrhea.
The pain is so severe that people become afraid to eat and lose weight, Schmittling says.
-------------------- --Lymetutu-- Opinions, not medical advice! Posts: 94970 | From Texas | Registered: Feb 2001
| IP: Logged |