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Short bowel syndrome is a condition that occurs when a child has lost a significant part of his or her small intestine.
Risk factors for short bowel syndrome include:
The intestines are part of the digestive system. They are responsible for energy and fluid absorption, as well as absorption of vitamins, electrolytes and minerals. The small intestine is divided into three parts: the duodenum (located next to the stomach), the jejunum (middle section of the intestine) and the ileum (attached to the colon). The ileum has some functions that are very specialized and cannot occur in other parts of the intestines (such as absorption of bile and vitamin B12).
When children have portions of their small intestine removed, they often are not able to absorb enough fluids and nutrients to sustain growth and hydration. When this occurs, it is often called intestinal failure. Short bowel syndrome is the most common cause of intestinal failure in children.
After surgery, your child may experience the following symptoms of short bowel syndrome:
If your child has short bowel syndrome, he or she may experience the following complications:
child’s doctor will know what types of problems or deficiencies your child may
be at risk for based on the part of the intestine that was removed.
If your child is known to have short bowel syndrome or is at risk for intestinal failure, a pediatric gastroenterologist will obtain frequent lab data to monitor his or her condition. Other tests include:
Treatments for intestinal failure caused by short bowel syndrome include:
Children with short bowel syndrome are best cared for by a team of healthcare providers. This should include pediatric gastroenterologists, surgeons, pharmacists, dieticians and skilled nurses. Providers with experience and expertise in caring for the complex needs of children with short bowel syndrome are needed due to the complex needs of your child.
Visit the websites below to find support groups and services and learn more about short bowel syndrome.
Riley at IU Health offers a broad range of supportive services to make life better for families who choose us for their children's care.
The Intestinal Care Program at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health provides interdisciplinary care for children with short bowel syndrome.
This website from the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition offers families information about short bowel syndrome.
This National Institutes of Health website includes information for patients and families living with short bowel syndrome.
The website for this foundation provides information, resources and education for patients and families living with home IV and tube feeding.
The Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition Department at Riley at IU Health participates in medical and nutritional research relating to intestinal failure and short bowel syndrome. Talk to your child’s doctor if you would like to know more about available studies and to learn if your child qualifies for participation in important clinical trials.
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