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Short Bowel Syndrome

  • Krisha McCoy, MS
Publication Type:


Short Bowel Syndrome


Short bowel syndrome is a problem that can happen in people who have a large part or all of their small intestine removed.

The Small Intestines.

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Short bowel syndrome happens when half or more of the small intestine is removed. It reduces how much vitamins and minerals are absorbed from food.

Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk of short bowel syndrome are:


A person with short bowel syndrome may have:


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Blood tests may also be done to check for nutrition and absorption problems.


The goals of treatment are to help a person have the right fluid and nutrient intake, and to manage symptoms. This can be done with:

  • Fluids or nutrition given through an IV
  • Advice on what to eat, how much, and when
  • Supplements to help get more needed vitamins and minerals
  • Medicines to help food stay in the intestines longer so more nutrients can be absorbed
  • Surgery to implant a small bowel and replace what was removed


There are no current guidelines to prevent short bowel syndrome.





  • Batra, A., Keys, S.C., et al. Epidemiology, management and outcome of ultrashort bowel syndrome in infancy. Archive of Diseases in Childhood: Fetal & Neonatal Edition, 2017; 102 (6): F551-F556.
  • Hong, W.B., Tan, W.K. Changes of drug pharmacokinetics in patients with short bowel syndrome: a systematic review. European Journal of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics, 2021; 46 (4): 465-478.
  • Short bowel syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/short-bowel-syndrome.
  • Short bowel syndrome. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/short-bowel-syndrome.
  • Vlug, L.E., Verloop, M.W., et al; PICASsO Group. Cognitive outcomes in children with conditions affecting the small intestine: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, 2022; 74 (3): 368-376.
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.