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Short Bowel Syndrome

Definition

Short 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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Causes    TOP

Short bowel syndrome occurs when half or more of the small intestine is removed. It reduces the absorption of vitamins and minerals from food.

Risk Factors    TOP

Factors that may increase your chance of short bowel syndrome include:

Symptoms    TOP

Symptoms of short bowel syndrome may include:

Diagnosis    TOP

Your 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.

Treatment    TOP

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:

Nutrition

If 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.

Medications

In 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 H-2 blocker, a proton pump inhibitor, cholestyramine, and/or octreotide.

Surgery    TOP

Transplantation of small bowel is an option for those who cannot maintain their nutritional status with other treatments.

Prevention    TOP

There are no current guidelines to prevent short bowel syndrome.

RESOURCES:

American Gastroenterological Association
http://www.gastro.org
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
http://www.niddk.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
https://www.cag-acg.org
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
http://www.cdhf.ca

References:

Short bowel syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated May 6, 2014. Accessed September 27, 2016.
Short bowel syndrome. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated April 30, 2012. Accessed May 23, 2013.
Last reviewed March 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daus Mahnke, MD
Last Updated: 5/7/2014

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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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