All doctors that are on this list have been recommended by fellow MALS patients.
This list is not a recommendation from the National MALS Foundation. It is purely a patient referral list.
If you would like to recommend a doctor please email us with their information so we can get it added.
What is Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome (MALS)?MALS is a condition that happens when the Median Arcuate Ligament pushes down on the celiac artery and sometimes the nerves around the artery. This makes it hard for blood to flow normally. This ligament attaches to your diaphragm which is a muscular structure in your upper belly that moves up and down when you breathe. MALS can lead to awful GI symptoms, nausea, and pain. Most patients have their symptoms increase after eating, drinking, and/or exercise. It’s not a simple tummy ache.
What is the Celiac Artery and what does it do?The celiac artery is part of your vascular system which helps spread blood and oxygen throughout the body. The celiac artery is the first (1) of the three (3) abdominal mesenteric arteries and focuses on a specific section of your digestive system. The parts that it feeds are the stomach, pancreas, liver, spleen and upper part of the duodenum. When blood isn’t flowing properly it can prevent an organ/s from functioning as they should which is why when the artery is compressed it can cause so many uncomfortable symptoms.
How do I receive a MALS diagnosis?MALS is usually a diagnosis of exclusion. That means it is important to rule out other, more likely causes. Most patients will need to go through a full set of gastrointestinal (GI) tests just to make sure your symptoms aren’t from another illness. These tests look at how your esophagus, stomach, gallbladder, pancreas, liver and intestines are functioning. Very rarely will MALS show up on GI testing, so don’t get discouraged if the tests all come back as “normal”. At this point, you should be sent for further testing to look for MALS. These MALS-specific tests may include a wand (Mesenteric duplex ultrasound) that is rolled around on your belly to see how fast the blood flows through the arteries or a special x-ray machine (CTA) with or without a dye that takes pictures to see if any arteries are squished, a special magnetic machine (MRA) can do this too. Sometimes, you may need to have a special test that numbs the celiac nerves around the artery. This is called a celiac plexus block and it is sometimes used as part of the diagnosis process and sometimes part of the pain management treatment, but not always. The doctors will look at all your test results to see if you have MALS. It's important that the tests are done using the correct protocols necessary and should be done by someone experienced in looking for MALS. It's also important that all tests are read or interpreted by someone who understands the complexity of MALS and who knows exactly what to look for in the results. If not, you may be told you do not have MALS, when in fact you might.
Can you have a GI illness and still have MALS?It’s not that uncommon for a MALS patient to have more than just MALS, some people have another GI illness too. But there are also times when MALS patients get misdiagnosed with other illnesses because of their MALS symptoms. Gastroparesis (GP) is not that uncommon for MALS patients to have. Some doctors will diagnose MALS patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Acid Reflux, Chronic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS) and Dumping Syndrome. These are all syndromes that are a diagnosis made by exclusion which is similar to how you get a MALS diagnosis. It’s important that you know that the symptoms you have that result in a GI diagnosis may or may not be directly related to MALS. We see both. Some patients have a (GI) diagnosis, but the symptoms are actually caused by MALS. In other cases, there is an independent (GI) condition not related to MALS. This is why it’s so important to have various GI testing prior to surgery including being tested for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), Cdiff (diarrhea due a bacteria and inflammation), celiac disease, fecal elastase stool and follow-up with your Gastroenterologist after surgery if you continue to have digestive issues.