Share this page

Health Library

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

nucleus factsheet image

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

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

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

Symptoms

Symptoms of short bowel syndrome may include:

Diagnosis

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

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 H2 antagonist, a proton pump inhibitor, cholestyramine, and/or octreotide.

Surgery

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

Prevention

There is no known way to prevent short bowel syndrome.

RESOURCES:

American Gastroenterological Association
http://www.gastro.org

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
http://www.cag-acg.org

Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
http://www.cdhf.ca

References:

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.



Last reviewed May 2013 by Marcin Chwistek, MD; Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Baptist Flame

Health Library

Find A Doctor

Services

Locations

Baptist Medical Clinic

Patients & Visitors

Learn

Contact Us

Physician Tools

Careers at Baptist

Employee Links

Online Services

At Baptist Health Systems

At Baptist Medical Center

close ×