Diagnosis

To diagnose short bowel syndrome, your doctor 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 (barium X-ray), computerized tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and CT or MR enterography, that can show obstructions or changes to the intestines.

Treatment

Your treatment options for short bowel syndrome will depend on what parts of your small intestine are affected, whether your colon is intact and your own preferences.

Short bowel syndrome treatment may include:

  • Nutritional therapy. People with small bowel syndrome will need to follow a special diet and take nutritional supplements. Some people may need to get nutrition through a vein (parenteral nutrition) or a feeding tube (enteral nutrition) to prevent malnutrition.
  • Medications. In addition to nutritional support, your doctor may recommend drugs to help manage short bowel syndrome, such as medications to help control stomach acid, reduce diarrhea or improve intestinal absorption after surgery.
  • Surgery. Doctors may recommend surgery for children and adults with short bowel syndrome. Types of surgery include procedures to slow the passage of nutrients through the intestine or a procedure to lengthen the intestine (autologous gastrointestinal reconstruction), as well as small bowel transplantation (SBT).