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Short Bowel Syndrome

Short bowel syndrome or SBS is one of the most serious complications of surgical treatments for Crohn's disease.

It is a result of the loss of a significant part of the small intestine (small bowel) due to disease or surgery.

Crohn's disease is the leading cause of Short Bowel Syndrome.

It can also be caused by other diseases or traumatic injury to the small intestine.

The most serious effect of Small Bowel Syndrome is malabsorption. Malabsorption is the inability to properly absorb nutrients and fluid from the foods you eat. The symptoms of malabsorption include:

  • weight loss,
  • chronic diarrhea,
  • dehydration,
  • abdominal bloating,
  • fatigue,
  • depression and
  • fat in the stool.

Small Bowel Syndrome may have a major impact on the quality of life of those who suffer from it.

When part of the small intestine is removed, the remaining intestine adapts to compensate for this loss. It is possible that your body may not adapt quickly enough or sufficiently to restore all lost function. The degree of complications following surgery of the small intestine, also known as resection, is affected by what portion is taken out.

There are three sections in the small intestine:

  • the duodenum it the first part, which connects to the stomach,
  • the jejunum is the middle part, and
  • the ileum is the last part, which connects to the colon
  • .

The bulk of digestion and absorption take place in the duodenum and the first part of the jejunum. In fact, the entire jejunum can be removed without much disability except for lactose intolerance, because the ileum can compensate for this loss.

In contrast, resection of the ileum results in most of the problems seen in Short Bowel Syndrome. The ileum is the specific site of absorption for bile acids, which are important for digesting food, vitamin B12 and some fats. Resection of the ileum also greatly decreases the capacity of the small intestine to absorb water and electrolytes.

Current treatments for short bowel syndrome are designed to manage symptoms and provide nutrition. In severe cases of Short Bowel Syndrome, parenteral nutrition (PN) is often required. Parenteral Nutrtion is a solution of nutrients that is provided through a tube placed in a large vein to treat malnourishment or to provide "bowel rest".

Other treatments include

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