[Short bowel syndrome: definition, causes, intestinal adaptation and bacterial overgrowth]

Nutr Hosp. 2007 May;22 Suppl 2:74-85.
[Article in Spanish]


The short bowel syndrome (SBS) is a complex entity due to anatomical or functional loss of part of the small bowel originating a clinical picture with severe metabolic and nutritional impairments due to reduction of the effective absorptive surface area of the gut. SBS is one of the causes of a larger entity known as "intestinal failu-Currently, mesenteric vascular accidents are the main cause in adults, followed by inflammatory bowel disease, and radiation enteritis, whereas in children, the main causes are congenital and perinatal diseases. The clinical picture associated with SBS varies according to the length and location of affected small bowel, the presence of underlying disease, the presence or absence of the large bowel and ileocecal valve, and the nature of the underlying disease. Intestinal adaptation is the process by which, throughout 1-2 years, intestinal absorption is reestablished to the situation prior to intestinal resection, and is a key factor determining whether a patient with SBS will progress to intestinal failure and depend on DPN. Intestinal adaptation may take place if the patient does oral intake higher than the usual one (hyperphagia); besides, the bowel may also adapt to secure a more effective absorption per surface area unit, either by increasing the absorptive surface area (structural adaptation) and/or slowing intestinal transit (functional adaptation). These changes are not still clearly established in humans, but there are so in animal models. The presence of nutrients within the intestinal lumen and certain gastrointestinal hormones, particularly GLP-2, have an influence on a successful adaptation process. Patients with SBS are prone to the occurrence of bacterial overgrowth that makes adaptation difficult and worsens the symptoms, besides being a factor for dependence on parenteral nutrition.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Blind Loop Syndrome / etiology
  • Humans
  • Prognosis
  • Short Bowel Syndrome* / complications
  • Short Bowel Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Short Bowel Syndrome* / etiology
  • Short Bowel Syndrome* / microbiology
  • Short Bowel Syndrome* / physiopathology