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Short bowel syndrome

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2024.


Short bowel syndrome is a condition in which the body cannot absorb enough nutrients from foods because part of the small intestine is missing or damaged.

The small intestine is where most of the nutrients you eat are absorbed into your body during digestion.

Short bowel syndrome can happen when:

Short bowel syndrome treatment typically involves special diets and nutritional supplements. It may involve receiving nutrition through a vein, called parenteral nutrition, to prevent malnutrition.


Common symptoms of short bowel syndrome may include:


Causes of short bowel syndrome include having parts of your small intestine removed during surgery, or being born with some of the small intestine missing or damaged. Conditions that may require surgical removal of portions of the small intestine include Crohn's disease, cancer, injuries and blood clots.


To diagnose short bowel syndrome, a healthcare professional may recommend blood or stool tests to measure nutrient levels. Other tests may include imaging procedures, such as an X-ray with a contrast material, called a barium X-ray; CT scan; MRI; and CT or MRI enterography, which can show blockages or changes to the intestines.


Treatment options for short bowel syndrome will depend on what parts of the small intestine are affected, whether the colon is intact and a person's own preferences.

Short bowel syndrome treatment may include:

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