Short bowel syndrome is a condition in which your body is unable to absorb enough nutrients from the foods you eat because you don't have enough small intestine.
The small intestine is where the majority of the nutrients you eat are absorbed into your body during digestion.
Short bowel syndrome can occur when:
- Portions of the small intestine have been surgically removed. Conditions that may require surgical removal of large portions of the small intestine include Crohn's disease, cancer, traumatic injuries and blood clots in the arteries that provide blood to the intestines.
- Portions of the small intestine are missing or damaged at birth. Babies may be born with a short small intestine or with a damaged small intestine that must be surgically removed.
Short bowel syndrome treatment typically involves special diets and nutritional supplements and may require nutrition through a vein (parenteral nutrition) to prevent malnutrition.
Common signs and symptoms of short bowel syndrome may include:
- Greasy, foul-smelling stools
- Weight loss
- Swelling (edema) in the lower extremities
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.