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Short bowel syndrome

  • Alternative Names

    Small intestine insufficiency


    Treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms, and may include:

    • A high-calorie diet that supplies essential vitamins and minerals, as well as certain types of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats
    • Some vitamins and minerals may need to be given by injection
    • Treatment for anemia with vitamin B-12, folic acid, and increased dietary iron
    • Medications to slow down the normal movement of the intestine (lengthens the time nutrients spend in the small intestine)
    • Tube feeding through a vein (parenteral nutrition), if normal feeding is not delivering enough nutrients (patients can sometimes return to normal eating once they have stabilized)

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    The condition may improve over time if it occurs as a result of surgery. There may be a gradual improvement in nutrient absorption.

    • Bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine
    • Degeneration of the nervous system caused by a lack of vitamin B12 (combined systems disease)
    • Excess acid in the blood (metabolic acidosis due to diarrhea)
    • Gallstones
    • Kidney stones
    • Malnutrition
    • Too much growth of bacteria
    • Weakened bones (osteomalacia)
    • Weight loss

    Calling your health care provider

    Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop symptoms of short bowel syndrome, especially if you recently had bowel surgery.