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Nutrition in short-bowel syndrome.

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  • 1Medical Dept., Roskilde County Hospital, Koege, Denmark.


Short-bowel syndrome is a state of severe malabsorption secondary to extensive bowel resection. The most common reasons for extensive bowel resection are Crohn's disease and mesenteric infarction. The pathophysiological consequences depend on extent and site of resection, integrity and adaptation of the remaining bowel, and secondary effects on other organs. Most extensively bowel resected patients can be adequately nourished by mouth, especially since they develop compensatory hyperphagia. For patients with colon in function a high-carbohydrate low-fat diet is beneficial compared to a diet with a normal fat content, because it results in decreased diarrhoea, decreased faecal mineral losses, and increased energy assimilation. The relative amount of dietary fat does not influence stool mass or energy assimilation in jejunostomy patients. Patients with jejunostomy have a high faecal output of water, sodium, and divalent cations, and they often need permanent parenteral supply of saline as well as calcium and magnesium if their small intestinal remnant is < 200 cm and parenteral nutritional support if they retain < 100 cm small bowel. In contrast, 50 cm of the jejunum often suffices for adequate oral nutrition if most of the colon is preserved. The majority of patients needing long-term intravenous supply are trained to administer parenteral nutrition at home (HPN). Most patients on HPN obtain a good or fair quality of life with hospital readmissions corresponding to an average of 10% of the HPN duration and an overall HPN related mortality of about 4%.

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