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Short bowel syndrome in infancy: recent advances and practical management


Short bowel syndrome (SBS) is a rare condition characterised by extensive loss of intestinal mass secondary to congenital or acquired disease. The outcomes are determined by dependency on parenteral nutrition (PN), its possible complications and factors that influence intestinal adaptation. In order to achieve the best results, patients should be managed by a specialised multidisciplinary team with the aims of promoting growth and development, stimulating intestinal adaptation and preventing possible complications. This involves timely surgical management aimed at rescuing maximum bowel length and eventually re-establishing intestinal continuity where appropriate. A combination of enteral and parenteral nutrition needs to be targeted towards maintaining a balance between fulfilling the nutritional and metabolic needs of the child while preventing or at least minimising potential complications. Enteral nutrition and establishment of oral feeding play a fundamental role in stimulating bowel adaptation and promoting enteral autonomy. Other measures to promote enteral autonomy include the chyme recycling in patients where bowel is not in continuity, autologous gastrointestinal reconstruction and pharmacological treatments, including promising new therapies like teduglutide. Strategies such as lipid reduction, changing the type of lipid emulsion and cycling PN are associated with a reduction in the rates of intestinal failure–associated liver disease. Even though vast improvements have been made in the surgical and medical management of SBS, there is still lack of consensus in many aspects and collaboration is essential.

  • short bowel syndrome
  • intestinal failure

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