Short bowel syndrome

In short bowel syndrome, the surface area of the small intestine is reduced due to the physical loss or the loss of function of a portion of the intestines. The small intestine’s most important task is to break down nutrients and absorb them; the larger the small intestine’s surface area is, the more efficient it is. Since short bowel syndrome involves a reduced surface area, the intestines cannot sufficiently absorb fluids, nutrients and energy.

Among other things, congenital deformities, IBD, injuries, and surgery complications may cause short bowel syndrome. A severe bowel movement disorder may also lead to functional short bowel syndrome in people of all ages. The symptoms usually include diarrhoea, weight loss, fatigue, dehydration, absorption disorders, and resulting nutrient deficiencies. In children, the symptoms also include growth and development deceleration. The condition is often diagnosed based on medical and surgical history and symptomatology. The severity of the disorder depends on the patient’s age, the remaining amount of small intestine and whether the patient has any remaining large intestine. The health of the remaining intestine also is of significance.

A multidisciplinary team is responsible for the treatment of short bowel syndrome. The treatment aims to enable the patient’s functional capacity to be as normal as possible for the patient’s age. Primary treatment involves parenteral nutrition administered intravenously via a central vascular catheter. In addition, a diet or supplementary nutrient preparation with high energy content, which is consumed orally, can be used. It is often most important to eat a lot, i.e., frequently throughout the day.