Chronic intestinal failure and short bowel syndrome in Crohn's disease

World J Gastroenterol. 2021 Jun 28;27(24):3440-3465. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v27.i24.3440.


Chronic intestinal failure (CIF) is a rare but feared complication of Crohn's disease. Depending on the remaining length of the small intestine, the affected intestinal segment, and the residual bowel function, CIF can result in a wide spectrum of symptoms, from single micronutrient malabsorption to complete intestinal failure. Management of CIF has improved significantly in recent years. Advances in home-based parenteral nutrition, in particular, have translated into increased survival and improved quality of life. Nevertheless, 60% of patients are permanently reliant on parenteral nutrition. Encouraging results with new drugs such as teduglutide have added a new dimension to CIF therapy. The outcomes of patients with CIF could be greatly improved by more effective prevention, understanding, and treatment. In complex cases, the care of patients with CIF requires a multidisciplinary approach involving not only physicians but also dietitians and nurses to provide optimal intestinal rehabilitation, nutritional support, and an improved quality of life. Here, we summarize current literature on CIF and short bowel syndrome, encompassing epidemiology, pathophysiology, and advances in surgical and medical management, and elucidate advances in the understanding and therapy of CIF-related complications such as catheter-related bloodstream infections and intestinal failure-associated liver disease.

Keywords: Chronic intestinal failure; Crohn's disease; Inflammatory bowel disease; Intestinal failure-associated liver disease; Parenteral nutrition; Short bowel syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Crohn Disease* / complications
  • Crohn Disease* / diagnosis
  • Crohn Disease* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Intestinal Diseases* / etiology
  • Intestinal Diseases* / therapy
  • Parenteral Nutrition, Home* / adverse effects
  • Quality of Life
  • Short Bowel Syndrome* / therapy