Short Bowel Syndrome or Short Gut Syndrome

What Is Short Bowel Syndrome Or Short Gut Syndrome?

Short Bowel Syndrome or Short Gut Syndrome is a collection of medical conditions caused as a result of inadequate absorption of nutrients. This condition is typically found in people who have undergone surgery to remove partial or complete intestine. Majority of digestion takes place in the small intestine. Individuals with Short Bowel Syndrome or Short Gut Syndrome are not able to absorb enough vitamins, water, and other nutrients required for living purposes.

Short Bowel Syndrome Or Short Gut Syndrome

What Are The Causes Of Short Bowel Syndrome Or Short Gut Syndrome?

The root cause of Short Bowel Syndrome or Short Gut Syndrome is partial or complete removal of the intestines because of injuries, medical conditions, or congenital defects in the intestines. In infants Short Bowel Syndrome or Short Gut Syndrome may occur due to surgery performed to treat the following conditions:

  • Necrotizing Enterocolitis: This is a condition found in premature newborns which causes necrosis of bowel tissues
  • Congenital bowel defects like midgut volvulus, jejunoileal atresia, internal hernia. 
  • Meconium ileus: This is a condition which is associated with cystic fibrosis

In adolescents and adults, Short Bowel Syndrome or Short Gut Syndrome may develop due to surgery to treat conditions like:

  • Intussusception: This is a condition in which there is folding of one intestine into another
  • Crohn's disease
  • Bowel injury
  • Cancer

What Are The Symptoms Of Short Bowel Syndrome Or Short Gut Syndrome?

The primary symptom of Short Bowel Syndrome or Short Gut Syndrome is persistent diarrhea, which can lead to acute dehydration. Some of the other symptoms of Short Bowel Syndrome or Short Gut Syndrome are:

  • Cramping sensation
  • Bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue

Symptoms Of Short Bowel Syndrome Or Short Gut Syndrome

How Is Short Bowel Syndrome Or Short Gut Syndrome Diagnosed?

To diagnose Short Bowel Syndrome or Short Gut Syndrome the following tests are conducted:

  • Blood tests to check the albumin levels
  • Complete blood count
  • Stool test to check levels of fat in the stools
  • X-ray of the intestines
  • Checking levels of vitamins in the blood

What Are The Treatments For Short Bowel Syndrome Or Short Gut Syndrome?

Nutritional support is primary mode of treatment for Short Bowel Syndrome or Short Gut Syndrome. This may involve utilization of oral rehydration solutions, parenteral nutrition, enteral nutrition along with use of medications. Oral rehydration solutions have liquids with sugar and salt in it to keep the body hydrated. Parenteral nutrition provides the body with necessary fluids, electrolytes, and liquid nutrients intravenously. Enteral nutrition involves providing liquid food directly into the stomach through a feeding tube. More specific treatments are dependent on the severity of the disease process.

To treat mild forms of Short Bowel Syndrome or Short Gut Syndrome, it is recommended that the individual eat frequent small meals instead of one large meal and take adequate fluid and nutritional supplements and take medications to control diarrhea.

Treatment for moderate forms of Short Bowel Syndrome or Short Gut Syndrome involves addition of infusion of intravenous fluids apart from the treatment mentioned above

Severe forms of Short Bowel Syndrome or Short Gut Syndrome are treated with parenteral nutrition and oral rehydration solutions.

The long-term treatment and recovery of short bowel syndrome or Short Gut Syndrome is dependent on which part of the intestine is damaged and removed and how much of the intestine is still remaining.

In case if all treatments fail to relieve symptoms and the individual has other complications like blood clots or liver dysfunction, then another option is an intestinal transplant.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: March 12, 2015

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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