Long-term symptom improvement and health-related quality of life after operative management of median arcuate ligament syndrome

Keouna Pather, Jussi M. Kärkkäinen, Emanuel R. Tenorio, Thomas C. Bower, Manju Kalra, Randall DeMartino, Jill Colglazier, Gustavo S. Oderich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To investigate long-term symptom improvement and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) after operative intervention for median arcuate ligament syndrome (MALS). Methods: Clinical data of all consecutive patients treated by operative management of MALS from 1999 to 2018 were reviewed. A cross-sectional questionnaire using the Visick score, the Gastrointestinal Quality of Life Index, and Short Form (SF)-12v2 questionnaires was performed to assess long-term outcomes. The SF-12 HRQOL domains were compared between symptom-free and symptomatic patient groups and to averages for the US general population. Treatment failure was defined as no relief after surgery and Visick category 3 to 4 symptoms. Freedom from symptoms was estimated at 5 years. Results: A total of 100 patients were treated for MALS (mean age, 38 ± 18 years; 75% female). Open surgical release was performed in 81 and laparoscopic release in 19 patients. The most common presenting symptom was abdominal pain in 99 patients with postprandial exacerbation in 85. There was no mortality. Major adverse events at 30 days had occurred in 21 patients (open 19, laparoscopic 2) including myocardial infarction (n = 1), pancreatitis (n = 2), respiratory failure (n = 4), estimated blood loss of more than 1 L (n = 8), and postoperative ileus (n = 8). One patient treated by laparoscopic release required conversion for an aortic injury, which was treated by primary repair and splenectomy. Forty-six patients responded to the questionnaire with a mean follow-up of 8 ± 4 years. Initial symptom resolution or improvement was reported by 38 patients (83%), whereas 8 patients (17%) reported treatment failure. Seven of the 38 patients (18%) with initial treatment success reported symptom recurrence. The estimated 5-year freedom from symptoms was 67 ± 7%. All SF-12 HRQOL domains were significantly lower and below the average population range in symptomatic patients compared with those who were symptom free, in which all domains were within the average population range. The Gastrointestinal Quality of Life Index scores were also significantly lower in symptomatic patients. Forty respondents (87%) reported that they would still undergo operative management if given the choice, including all respondents who reported symptom recurrence. Conclusions: The operative management of MALS can be performed with a low rate of complications. Approximately two-thirds of respondents were free of symptoms 5 years after the procedure. Treatment success in symptom-free patients was associated with an improved HRQOL on par with the population average compared with symptomatic patients. The vast majority of respondents would opt to have the operation again if given a choice. However, patients should be well-informed about the possibility of failure to relieve symptoms and symptom recurrence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2050-2058.e4
JournalJournal of vascular surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • MALS
  • Median arcuate ligament syndrome
  • Operative management
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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