Changes of Drug Pharmacokinetics in Patients with Short Bowel Syndrome: A Systematic Review

Eur J Drug Metab Pharmacokinet. 2021 Jul;46(4):465-478. doi: 10.1007/s13318-021-00696-y. Epub 2021 Jul 1.


Background and objectives: Short bowel syndrome is a clinical condition defined by malabsorption of nutrients and micronutrients, most commonly following extensive intestinal resection. Due to a loss of absorptive surfaces, the absorption of orally administered drugs is also often affected. The purpose of this study was to systematically review the published literature and examine the effects of short bowel syndrome on drug pharmacokinetics and clinical outcomes.

Methods: Studies were identified through searches of databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, and SCOPUS, in addition to hand searches of studies' reference lists. Two reviewers independently assessed studies for inclusion, yielding 50 studies involving 37 different drugs in patients with short bowel syndrome.

Results: Evidence of decreased drug absorption was observed in 29 out of 37 drugs, 6 of which lost therapeutic effect, and 14 of which continued to demonstrate clinical benefit through drug monitoring.

Conclusions: The influence of short bowel syndrome on drug absorption appears to be drug-specific and dependent on the location and extent of resection. The presence of a colon in continuity may also influence drug bioavailability as it can contribute significantly to the absorption of drugs (e.g., metoprolol); likewise, drugs that have a wide absorption window or are known to be absorbed in the colon are least likely to be malabsorbed. Individualized dosing may be necessary to achieve therapeutic efficacy, and therapeutic drug monitoring, where available, should be considered in short bowel syndrome patients, especially for drugs with narrow therapeutic indices.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Biological Availability
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / administration & dosage
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism*
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Short Bowel Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Short Bowel Syndrome / surgery


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations