Understanding short bowel syndrome: Current status and future perspectives

Dig Liver Dis. 2020 Mar;52(3):253-261. doi: 10.1016/j.dld.2019.11.013. Epub 2019 Dec 28.


Short bowel syndrome (SBS) is a rare malabsorptive disorder as a result of the loss of bowel mass mostly secondary to surgical resection of the small intestine. Other causes are vascular diseases, neoplasms or inflammatory bowel disease. The spectrum of the disease is widely variable from single micronutrient malabsorption to complete intestinal failure, depending on the remaining length of the small intestine, the anatomical portion of intestine and the function of the remnant bowel. Over the last years, the management of affected patients has remarkably improved with the increase in patients' quality of life and survival, mainly thanks to advances in home-based parenteral nutrition (PN). In the last ten years new treatment strategies have become available together with increasing experience and the encouraging results with new drugs, such as teduglutide, have added a new dimension to the management of SBS. This review aims to summarize the knowledge available in the current literature on SBS epidemiology, pathophysiology, and its surgical (including intestinal lengthening procedures and intestinal transplantation) and medical management with emphasis on the recent advances. Moreover, this review attempts to provide the new understanding and recent approaches to SBS complications such as sepsis, catheter thrombosis, and intestinal failure-associated liver disease.

Keywords: Home-based parenteral nutrition (HPN); Intestinal failure; Intestinal transplantation; Malabsorption; Short bowel syndrome (SBS); Teduglutide.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Management
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Intestines / physiopathology*
  • Intestines / transplantation
  • Parenteral Nutrition, Home
  • Peptides / therapeutic use
  • Quality of Life
  • Short Bowel Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Short Bowel Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Short Bowel Syndrome / therapy*


  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Peptides
  • teduglutide