From the AGA Journals

AGA clinical practice update: Expert review on managing short bowel syndrome



Caring for patients with short bowel syndrome (SBS) requires a multidisciplinary approach involving dietitians, nurses, surgeons, gastroenterologists or internists, and social workers experienced in SBS care, according to a clinical practice update expert review from the American Gastroenterological Association.

Kishore Iyer, MD, from Mount Sinai Hospital New York; John K. DiBaise, MD, from Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Alberto Rubio-Tapia, MD, from the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, developed 12 best practice advice statements based on available evidence. The items focus on adult patients with SBS; however, there was some overlap with the management of pediatric SBS. The review was published online in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Defining SBS

One update concerns defining SBS. The authors recommend that surgeons performing massive resections should report the residual bowel length, rather than the length of bowel resected.

“It is only the former that dictates outcome,” they wrote.

There is general agreement that a residual small intestinal length of 200 cm or less meets criteria for SBS. Measurement should be taken from “along the antimesenteric border of unstretched bowel, from the duodenojejunal flexure to the ileocecal junction, the site of any small bowel–colon anastomosis, or to the end-ostomy.”

Based on the residual bowel length, patients can be classified into three groups: end-jejunostomy, jejuno-colic, and jejuno-ileo-colic.

Assessing nutritional status

A dietitian experienced in SBS should perform a thorough nutritional assessment on all SBS patients. Long-term monitoring should include laboratory studies checking electrolytes and liver and kidney function, fluid balance, weight change, serum micronutrients, and bone density. Bone density should be repeated periodically, every 2-3 years.

Fluid and electrolyte problems may affect outcomes for SBS patients, particularly for those without a colon.

Adjusting diets

Most adult patients with SBS have significant malabsorption, so dietary intake “must be increased by at least 50% from their estimated needs,” the authors wrote. It’s best if the patient consumes the increased quantity throughout the day in 5-6 meals, they noted.

An experienced dietitian should counsel the patient based on the patient’s eating preferences. Incorporating preferences can help increase compliance with the adjustments that may become necessary based on symptoms, stool output, and weight.

Using pharmacologic therapy

Using antisecretory medications, including proton pump inhibitors or histamine-2 receptor antagonists, helps reduce gastric secretions, the damage of acid on the upper gut mucosa, and the function of pancreatic exocrine enzymes.

Antidiarrheals reduce intestinal motility but also cause a slight reduction in intestinal secretion. Common agents include loperamide, diphenoxylate with atropine, codeine, and tincture of opium. The review authors say loperamide should get preference over opiate drugs because it is not addictive or sedative.

Use of antidiarrheals should be guided by their effect on stool output.

“Loperamide and codeine may have a synergistic effect when used together,” the authors wrote.

Clonidine, which can be given transdermally, has also shown some benefit in treating high-output stool losses, presumably because of its effects on intestinal motility and secretion.


Next Article: