Short-bowel syndrome is the malabsorptive state that follows extensive resection of the small intestine. Potential long-term survival without parenteral nutrition heavily depends on stimulation of the process of intestinal adaptation, through which the remaining small intestine gradually increases its absorptive capacity. This process is heavily nutrient dependent, and aggressive use of enteral nutrition is required to stimulate its completion. A combination of osmotic sensitivities, nutrient malabsorption, bowel dilatation and dysmotility, and changes in bacterial flora influence the symptoms and the management of this disorder. Chronic complications include parenteral nutrition-induced liver disease, nutrient deficiency states, and, frequently, small bowel bacterial overgrowth. Intestinal transplantation has been successfully developed in some centers in the United States, and preliminary experience suggest a long-term survival of 50%-75%, better in patients receiving an isolated intestinal transplant than a combined liver/bowel transplant. The ultimate role of intestinal transplantation is still undergoing evaluation.
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