Short Bowel Syndrome, Causes and symptoms of Short Bowel Syndrome

Short Bowel Syndrome

  • Posted on- May 08, 2018
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Short Bowel Syndrome

Short bowel syndrome (SBS) is a disorder that occurs when a large portion of the intestine does not work normally. This can occur if a large section of the intestine has been surgically extracted or if a baby is born with an abnormally short intestine.

Complications of short bowel syndrome

  • Child does not gain weight (sometimes labeled “failure to thrive”)
  • Dehydration
  • Vitamin deficiencies as a result of poor absorption in the intestine
  • Ulcers from excess stomach acid
  • Bacterial overgrowth in areas of dilated intestine
  • Kidney stones or gallstones due to poor absorption of calcium or bile
  • Liver disease

Causes of short bowel syndrome

When present at birth, short bowel syndrome can be caused by:

  • Narrowing or obstruction of the intestines
  • Abnormally short small intestine

Short bowel syndrome (SBS) can occur as a result of surgery:

  • NEC (necrotizing enterocolitis) in babies
  • Twisting of the intestine (volvulus)
  • Intestinal resection for Crohn’s disease
  • Removing part of the intestine for other reasons (tumors, abnormal blood supply, strictures, etc.)

Other issues:

  • Intestinal pseudo-obstruction or abnormal motility of the bowel
  • Rupture to the intestines from radiation therapy


Symptoms of short bowel syndrome

  • Poor weight gain or weight loss
  • Bloating
  • Poor appetite
  • Increased gas
  • Foul smelling stools
  • Fatigue
  • Pale or pasty-looking skin
  • Vomiting


Treatment of short bowel syndrome

Proper diet plays a vital role in helping the body absorb all the nutrients it needs to grow.  For infants, the diet can consist of breast milk or formulas that are pre-digested or hypoallergenic.

At the starting stage of treatment, IV nutrition is generally needed for growth and good hydration. Treatment of vitamin deficiency and anemia is also very important.

It is hoped that the bowel will grow in size and adapt to eventually be able to perform all the required functions without the need for IV nutrition.

Intestinal transplantation can be chosen for severe forms of short bowel syndrome.


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