Short Bowel Syndrome
DefinitionShort bowel syndrome is a complication that can occur in people who have a large part or all of their small intestine removed.
|The Small Intestines|
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CausesShort bowel syndrome occurs when half or more of the small intestine is removed. It reduces the absorption of vitamins and minerals from food.
Risk FactorsFactors that may increase your risk of short bowel syndrome include:
- Crohn's disease , which is the most common reason for the removal of the small intestine
- Vascular problems
- Premature birth or very low birth weight
- Necrotizing enterocolitis
- Intestinal atresias
SymptomsSymptoms of short bowel syndrome may include:
- Poor growth
- Weight loss
- Food sensitivities
DiagnosisYour doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Blood tests may also be performed to check for nutritional and absorption problems.
TreatmentTalk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
NutritionIf you are malnourished, your doctor may give you food, fluid, and electrolytes through an IV. You will be advised to gradually increase your caloric intake and avoid certain foods. Initially, your diet will be high-protein, low-fat, and lactose-free.
MedicationsIn addition to changing your diet, you may need to take vitamin and mineral supplements. Antidiarrheal medications and medications that slow the contraction and relaxation of the intestinal muscles can also slow your digestion so you can absorb more nutrients. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may prescribe an H2 antagonist, a proton pump inhibitor, cholestyramine, and/or octreotide.
SurgeryTransplantation of small bowel is an option for patients who cannot maintain their nutritional status with other treatments.
PreventionThere is no known way to prevent short bowel syndrome.
American Gastroenterological Association
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
Short bowel syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed.Updated April 24, 2013. Accessed May 23, 2013.
Short bowel syndrome. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/shortbowel/index.htm.Updated April 30, 2012. Accessed May 23, 2013.
- Reviewer: Daus Mahnke, MD
- Review Date: 03/2014
- Update Date: 05/07/2014