Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD.
Short bowel syndrome is a malabsorption disorder
that is a complication of extensive surgical resection of the small bowel. After
surgery there is not enough bowel to absorb nutrients. If more than half of the
bowel is removed during surgery, the risk of small bowel syndrome is great.
Small bowel diseases that may require surgical intervention include
Crohn’s disease and necrotizing enterocolitis in infants. The condition is
detected by the patient’s history and an upper gastrointestinal (GI)
barium x-ray study. On this study, the barium moves rapidly through the small
bowel. The symptoms of short bowel syndrome may improve over time but will
always require close attention to diet.
Living With Your
DiagnosisThe key symptoms of short
bowel syndrome are large amounts of foul-smelling diarrhea and weight loss.
Crampy abdominal pains and weakness accompany the diarrhea and weight loss. The
symptoms usually begin 3–10 days after abdominal surgery.
treatment for small bowel syndrome is nutritional support. Hospitalization may
be required. The initial treatment commonly is intravenous hyperalimentation
(TPN). This will allow the bowel to rest and recover somewhat. A histamine-2
blocker medication is given to help prevent the secretion of acid from the
stomach. Usually after 1–4 weeks, the diarrhea will resolve and the
appetite will return. At this time enteral feedings (mixtures put through a tube
into the stomach) can resume. This is a slow process as the gut learns to work
again. After weeks to months of this, you are able to slowly advance to oral
feedings. Close monitoring of the diet will be key. A high-calorie, lowfat,
low-residue diet is necessary. In some cases lifelong TPN is required.
Supplementation of fatsoluble vitamins and minerals is also necessary.
DOs• If you have the condition,
be patient. This condition takes months to slowly
resolve.• Be prepared for a long
hospital stay. Many patients’ stays exceed 8
weeks.• Once able to eat, watch the
diet closely.• Take vitamin and
mineral supplements as
DON’Ts• Avoid high-fat
dietsWhen to Call Your
Doctor• If after bowel surgery
you have diarrhea.• If being treated
for short bowel syndrome and the symptoms worsen or
Bowel Syndrome: www.icondata.com/health/pedbase/files/SHORTBOW.HTM