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Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome - Video

The animated videos in NORD’s Rare Disease Video Library provide brief introductions to rare disease topics for patients, caregivers, students, professionals and the public. NORD collaborates with medical experts, patient organizations, videographers and Osmosis to develop the videos, which are made possible by individual donations, educational grants and corporate sponsorships. NORD is solely responsible for the content.

General Discussion

The median arcuate ligament syndrome (MALS) is a cause of chronic abdominal pain affecting both children and adults alike. Chronic abdominal pain is a very common condition that can have significant negative, long-term psychosocial consequences, including increased risk for anxiety, school and work absences, poor functional capacity, and a poor quality of life. While the exact cause of the pain is unknown, compression of the celiac artery and/or the celiac plexus nerves by the diaphragm can result in pain that is worsened with eating or sometimes with exercise. Other symptoms include nausea and weight loss. In some patients the symptoms can be devastating and can lead to erroneous diagnoses of an eating disorder, psychiatric conditions, or functional abdominal pain (e.g. irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal migraine). The diagnosis is made based on a combination of the clinical symptoms and radiology imaging. There is a surgical procedure that can be performed that is effective in approximately 60-80% of patients.

Synonyms of Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome

  • MALS
  • celiac artery compression syndrome (CACS)
  • Dunbar syndrome
  • Harjola-Marable syndrome

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