What is Short Gut Syndrome?
Short gut syndrome, also called short bowel syndrome, is a condition in which your body cannot absorb enough nutrients from foods because part of the small intestine is missing or is not working correctly.
It may be present at birth or develop when part of the small intestine is removed due to IBD, cancer or bowel injury. While in healthy adults, the small intestine is usually about 20 feet long, in individuals with short gut syndrome, usually half or more of the small intestine is missing.
Common symptoms of short gut syndrome may consist of:
- Chronic diarrhea.
- Weight loss.
- Kidney stones or gallstones.
- Fatty liver.
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How is Short Gut Syndrome Diagnosed?
If you have had much of your small intestine removed or were born without part of your small intestine, your doctor may already suspect short gut syndrome. To diagnose this condition, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and your health history. He or she may also run some tests including blood tests, stool tests, upper GI series, CT scan, ultrasound or liver biopsy.
Treatment Options for Short Gut Syndrome
The main goal of treatment for short gut syndrome is to manage symptoms and help you absorb enough vitamins and minerals. Your doctor will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan, which may be different depending on the severity of your condition.
Patients with short gut syndrome may need to follow a specific diet and take nutritional supplements. In some cases, parenteral nutrition (nutrition through a vein) or enteral nutrition (a feeding tube) is needed to prevent malnutrition.
Your doctor may recommend medications to help control stomach acid, improve intestinal absorption or reduce diarrhea.
There are a number of surgical procedures that may be done to improve short gut syndrome, including those to slow the movement of nutrients through the intestines or a procedure to lengthen the intestines. If you have not responded to any other treatments, your doctor may suggest surgery such as an intestinal transplant. You will first be put on a waiting list for a small intestine from a donor. Surgery will then be performed to place a donor small intestine into the body.
Your South Denver GI Team
At South Denver GI, our team of physicians and advanced practice providers have the expertise to provide you with outstanding care. If you would like to learn more about Short Gut Syndrome (Short Bowel Syndrome) or need to schedule an appointment at our office, contact us today!
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