Short bowel syndrome: current medical and surgical trends

Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology
Evangelos P MisiakosTheodore Liakakos


Short bowel syndrome is a chronic malabsorptive state usually resulting from extensive small bowel resections. A combination of diarrhea, nutrient malabsorption, dysmotility, and bowel dilatation may constitute the clinical symptomatology of this syndrome. The remaining bowel undergoes a process called adaptation, which may replace lost intestinal function. Chronic complications include nutrient, electrolyte, and vitamin deficiencies. Therapy depends largely on the administration of various factors stimulating intestinal adaptation of the remaining bowel. If the patient despite medical therapy fails to return to oral diet alone, then long-term parenteral nutrition is required. However, long-term parenteral nutrition may gradually induce cholestatic liver disease. Surgical methods may be required for treatment including intestinal transplantation, as a last resort for the treatment of end-stage intestinal failure. The goal of this review is to analyze the clinical spectrum and pathophysiologic aspects of the syndrome, the process of intestinal adaptation, and to outline the medical and surgical methods currently used to treat this complicated group of patients.


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