Short bowel syndrome refers to a group of conditions associated with poor nutrient absorption. This syndrome occurs in individuals with at least half of the small intestines missing and in some cases, all or part of the large intestines missing. They also have considerable damage of the small intestines and poor movement in the intestines.
Short bowel syndrome may manifest severely, moderately or mildly depending on how well or badly the intestines are functioning.
There are many healthcare facilities in the United States where patients and their families can seek treatments for short bowel syndrome. However, travel is needed to access these facilities. Insurance plans only cover medical treatments but not travel expenses. This means patients and their families need to plan well so that the travel expenses are put on the minimum.
If you are already set for the facility that you want to go to for short bowel syndrome treatment, consultation or second opinion, you should go ahead and plan for your travel. Otherwise, you can check our list of medical facilities in the United States that offer high quality treatment for short bowel syndrome.
In case you are unable to cater for your travel expenses, you can check our directory of charitable organizations that offer cost-free travel for medical purposes.
About Short Bowel Syndrome
In some cases, children are born with part of their bowel missing or with abnormally short small intestines. This may cause short bowel syndrome. In children, the condition occurs commonly after surgical operation to rectify necrotizing enterocolitis (a problem where part of the tissues in the intestines is damaged).
The condition may also ensue after surgical operation to rectify problems such as the following;
- cancer and damage to the intestines as a result of cancer treatment
- Crohn’s disease, (condition that causes inflammation or swelling and irritation of any part of the digestive tract)
- gastroschisis, (when the intestines stick out of the body via one side of the umbilical cord)
- internal hernia, (when the small intestine is displaced into pockets in the abdominal lining)
- intestinal atresia, (when a part of the intestines does not completely form)
- intestinal injury caused by loss of blood flow as a result of a blocked blood vessel)
- intestinal injury caused by trauma
- meconium ileus, (when the meconium, an infant’s first stool, is thicker and stickier than normal and blocks the ileum)
- midgut volvulus, (when blood supply to the middle of the small intestine is completely cut off)
- omphalocele, (when the intestines, liver, or other organs stick out via the navel, or belly button).
Signs and symptoms of Short Bowel Syndrome
The main symptom of this syndrome is persistent diarrhea. The patient may also experience the following symptoms;
- Weight loss
Due to the fact that the body experiences problems in absorption of nutrients and vitamins, the condition can cause the following;
- Anemia (insufficient red blood cells)
- Bone pain and osteoporosis (thinning and fragile bones).
- Easy bruising
- Fatty liver
- Kidney stones
Treatment of Short Bowel Syndrome
In order to provide proper treatment for short bowel syndrome, the doctor will have first to make proper diagnosis. This is done based on the following;
- Medical and family history. This can help in the diagnosis of this condition. The doctor may also request for past operations.
- Physical examination. This is done by examining the body physically for signs of muscle wasting, vitamins and mineral deficiencies as well as weight loss.
- Blood tests for lab analysis.
- Fecal and fat tests. This is done to check the body’s ability to absorb fat.
- X-ray of the large and small intestines to check abnormalities in the intestines.
- Upper Gastrointestinal (GI) Series Upper GI series, also called a barium swallow, uses x rays and fluoroscopy to help diagnose problems of the upper GI tract.
- Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan
Where to Go for Short Bowel Syndrome Treatment
There are many hospitals in the United States where patients suffering from this condition and their loved ones can access treatments. These hospitals have the latest equipments, technologies, staff and medications to ensure that patients enjoy comprehensive medical care. Among these health care facilities include the following;
- Children’s Hospital Colorado
This hospital has assembled a competent team of professionals that strive to improve the outcome and quality of life for patients with short bowel syndrome and intestinal failure together with their families. This is through the use of the most current practices in nutritional management and programs to drastically reduce the changes for central line infections. At Children’s Hospital Colorado, the surgeons and specialty nurses have competencies and experience in innovative surgical techniques for patients that require these treatments.
Treatment options for short bowel syndrome include the following;
- Intestinal transplant
- Nutritional Support
The doctor may recommend surgical operation that may include transplantation of all or part of the small intestines. New organ can cure the condition. However, transplant is a major surgery. This is only recommended when other treatment options have proved futile. When this treatment option is the only option for you, the doctor will include you in the small intestine donation waiting list. After the operation, you are likely to remain in the hospital for at least six weeks. You will also need medications that prevent your body from rejected the donated organ.
Risks Associated with Short Bowel Syndrome
There are several risks associated with short bowel syndrome. Among the main risks of this condition include the following;
- Congenital defects and small intestine illnesses
- Cronhn’s disease
- Gastrointestinal cancers
- Injuries or trauma affecting the length of intestines
- Perforated bowel
- Blocked or restricted blood flow to the bowel.
Who Can Go for Short Bowel Syndrome Treatment
It is always advisable to form a habit of routinely going for medical examinations both for you and your young ones. However, there are those individuals who need to go for short bowel syndrome diagnosis and treatment. These include people experiencing signs and symptoms associated with the condition. Other patients that need to go for the diagnosis and/or treatment of this condition include those suffering from defects in the small and large intestines. Others include those suffering from diseases that affect the bowels such as gastrointestinal cancers, Crohn’s disease, and perforated bowels. If you have also experienced severe injuries of the bowel as a result of trauma, you should also go for a checkup.