Short Bowel Syndrome

Pediatric short bowel syndrome (the most common cause of intestinal failure in children) occurs when half or more of the small intestine is missing. At Nemours Children’s Health System, our multidisciplinary teams of renowned specialists work together to provide innovative non-surgical treatments and advanced minimally invasive procedures to lengthen the bowel, including the advanced serial transverse enteroplasty (STEP) for newborns, babies, children and teens.

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Expert Pediatric Care

Nemours pediatric general surgeons, gastroenterologists and other specialists — who rank top in the nation — provide coordinated, family-centered care that’s focused on relieving short bowel symptoms, restoring bowel function and giving your child good health and independence. We work together to evaluate your child, address your child’s nutritional needs, diagnose what’s causing short bowel syndrome, and develop a treatment plan specific to your child’s condition.

In the most rare and complex cases, Nemours specialists throughout Florida and the Delaware Valley can consult with one another to quickly make a diagnosis and begin treatment as soon as possible through our award-winning electronic health record system.

Types of Short Bowel Conditions We Treat

Also known as “short gut,” short bowel syndrome is most commonly due to a surgery performed to remove an injured or diseased portion of the small intestine — the part of the digestive tract responsible for nutrient absorption — but can also be caused by a defect in bowel function that may be congenital (present at birth) or acquired (occurs during development).

When a child has a shortened bowel, food passes too quickly for the small intestine to do its job properly (referred to as intestinal failure), resulting in dehydration, malnourishment, bacterial infections and poor growth and development.

Some conditions that result in short bowel syndrome include:
  • intestinal atresia (when parts of the bowel are closed or missing)
  • gastroschisis (a hole in the abdominal muscle and skin)
  • omphalocele (a hole in the muscles and skin at the belly button)
  • necrotizing enterocolitis (inflammation and blocked blood flow, usually due to prematurity)
  • Crohn disease (intestinal inflammation or scarring)
  • tumors (cancerous and non-cancerous)
  • trauma (injury, including radiation therapy from cancer treatment)
  • blood clots (blocked blood flow to the intestine)
  • malrotation (when intestines do not turn and attach properly)
  • volvulus (bowel twisting that can stop blood flow to the intestines)

Learn More About These Conditions and Related Topics From Nemours’ »

Family-Centered Care at Its Best

At the center of our care are our patients and families. We understand that no one knows your child better than you, so we always take time listen to your concerns and provide personal service and comprehensive care for your child —  and family — through emotional support, education and open communication.

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