Short Bowel Syndrome

Short bowel syndrome (SBS) also known as short gut syndrome, is a malabsorption problem in which the body becomes unable to absorb sufficient nutrients & fluids. This happens due to improper working of the small intestine. This problem is commonly seen in people whose small intestine or large intestine have been removed surgically for some cause. 

What are the symptoms of short bowel syndrome?

One of the main symptoms of short bowel syndrome is diarrhoea. In this condition the stool is usually watery and loose, which in result causes many other health problems such as weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration, etc. 

Below are some of the most common symptoms of it: 

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhoea (usually watery diarrhoea)
  • Excessive gas
  • Poor appetite
  • Fluid depletion
  • Foul smelling stool
  • Weight loss and malnutrition
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting

What are the causes of short bowel syndrome? 

As mentioned above, the short bowel syndrome happens to people whose small intestine has been removed surgically for some cause or it can also occur to people who was born with less small intestine, this condition is known as congenital short bowel. 

Below are the names of small surgical process which require the removal of small intestine: 

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Multiple polypoidal disease of small intestine 
  • Injury or trauma to the small intestine
  • Certain types of weight loss surgery
  • Damage from cancer treatment( Radiation enteritis) 
  • A premature newborn
  • Intussusception, a part of intestine folds over the other. 
  • Surgery to remove diseases or damaged portion of the small intestine

What treatments are available for short bowel syndrome?

Short bowel syndrome is curable and can be treated through many ways, including medication, surgery or specific diet. Although, one should keep in mind the long term maintenance of nutritional support and need of intravenous supplements. Patients may require repeated admissions because of electrolyte imbalance which needs repeated corrections. Conservative management remains the initial part of the management. 

Surgical management revolves around Restoring the continuity of the gut  in cases of massive gut resection with  jejunostomy. It is scientifically proven that our intestine has the ability to adopt with time the significant nutrient absorption along with supplements. 

The second surgical treatment option is intestinal transplantation which is done very highly specialised centres. Though it is not commonly performed because of lack of expertise as well as higher chances of rejection because extensive lymphoid tissue present in the tissue of small bowel. Though current immunosuppressive therapy has reported higher success rates with intestinal transplantation. 

To know more, consult our best team of General and transplant surgeons at The Surgeons House ( SHL) available at different global locations. Please click this link for more details. 

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