Short Bowel Syndrome

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Short bowel syndrome can cause growth issues in children. The board-certified pediatric gastroenterologists with Norton Children’s Gastroenterology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, provide specialized gastrointestinal (GI) care for children with short bowel syndrome.

What Is Short Bowel Syndrome?

Short bowel syndrome, also called short gut syndrome, or simply “short gut,” is a condition in which the small intestine is missing or is not working as it should. This causes the body to have issues with absorbing sugars, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals from the food we eat. This can cause a child to have issues with growth and thriving because they cannot absorb the nutrients they need.

Short bowel syndrome is serious because it can lead to dehydration and malnutrition if not treated. The condition also can pose other issues. If a child doesn’t have enough small intestine, the small intestine tries to make up for the missing part. It can expand, which creates more surface area to draw in nutrients. This width can cause it to take longer for the body to move nutrients through it. This may cause an infection called small bowel bacterial overgrowth due to the fact that bacteria may linger and collect the longer it spends in the small intestine.

Short Bowel Syndrome Symptoms

Short bowel syndrome symptoms are related to the body having trouble absorbing nutrients from food. Symptoms can include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Weight loss/inability to gain weight

Short Bowel Syndrome Treatment

The pediatric gastroenterologists with Norton Children’s Gastroenterology will work with your child to create a unique treatment plan unique. Treatment may include:

  • Antidiarrhea medications
  • Anti-ulcer medications
  • Diet changes: These can help the child absorb nutrients as they should after surgery.
  • Enteral nutrition: Enteral feeding is when a gastric tube (G-tube) is inserted into the stomach through an incision in the belly.
  • Intestinal adaptation: After surgery, the intestine may grow in size as the lining of the intestine becomes thicker and can promote nutrient absorption.

Total parenteral nutrition (TPN): This is a treatment that provides nourishment while bypassing the digestive system. A mix of fluids and nutrients is given through an intravenous (IV) catheter. The treatment can last from 10 to 12 hours.

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