Short Bowel Syndrome

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Short Bowel Syndrome

World-Class Expertise for Short Gut Syndrome

Pediatric short bowel syndrome is the most common cause of intestinal failure in children. It happens when half or more of the small intestine is missing. At Nemours, our team of specialists work together to combine the latest surgical approaches with nutritional expertise to help kids with short bowel syndrome (also known as “short gut syndrome”). We provide coordinated, family-centered care that’s focused on relieving short bowel symptoms, restoring bowel function, and helping your child be as healthy and independent as possible.

Conditions We See That Can Cause Short Bowel Syndrome

Short bowel syndrome is usually due to a surgery performed to remove an injured or diseased portion of the small intestine (the part of the digestive tract responsible for absorbing nutrients). But it can also be caused by a problem with bowel function that kids may be born with or they may develop as they grow.

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). This can cause dehydration, malnourishment, bacterial infections, and poor growth and development.

Some conditions that can result in short bowel syndrome include:

  • blood clots (blocked blood flow to the intestine)
  • Crohn’s disease (intestinal inflammation or scarring)
  • gastroschisis (a hole in the abdominal muscle and skin)
  • intestinal atresia (when parts of the intestine are closed or missing)
  • intestinal malrotation (when the intestines don’t turn and attach the way they should)
  • necrotizing enterocolitis (inflammation that causes tissue damage, usually from prematurity)
  • omphalocele (a hole in the skin and muscles at the belly button)
  • trauma (injury to the intestines, including radiation therapy from cancer treatment)
  • tumors (both cancerous and noncancerous)
  • volvulus (twisting of the bowels that can stop blood flow to the intestines)

Short Gut Syndrome Services We Offer

Our services, which may vary depending on the condition, combine state-of-the-art treatments with the support to help your family live with short bowel syndrome. At Nemours, we offer:

  • advanced minimally invasive surgical techniques that reduce surgery risks, pain recovery time — like serial transverse enteroplasty (STEP) (performed by only a handful of pediatric general surgeons in the country)
  • customized treatment plans based on advanced research and best practices
  • extensive imaging and navigational equipment for precise instrument guidance
  • nutritional experts trained in managing pediatric parenteral and enteral nutrition (intravenous and tube feeding) and the dietary needs of children with complex illnesses
  • coordinated access to specialists
  • family-centered facilities, support services and hospital amenities

Why Choose Us for Short Bowel Syndrome

At Nemours, we do everything in our power to help your child gain maximum independence. Your child’s top-notch short bowel care team, depending on the location you visit and your child’s condition, may include:

We all work together to evaluate your child, address their nutritional needs, diagnose what’s causing short bowel syndrome, and develop a treatment plan specific to your child. And we’re here for your family for the long run — providing full-service clinical care, as well as compassionate support and help in finding community resources to help your child grow up healthy.

Regional Short Bowel Syndrome Highlights

Services, programs and care teams differ at each location. Call for details.

We offer short bowel syndrome care at Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware (Wilmington, Del.).

We offer short bowel syndrome care at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando.

  • the premier multispecialty center in the Southeast for short bowel syndrome and pediatric intestinal failure care
  • team at the forefront of short gut syndrome innovation and treatment, with pediatric general surgeons that are among few in the country who perform the innovative serial transverse enteroplasty (STEP) technique for short bowel syndrome. And one of our care team members literally helped write the book on parenteral and enteral nutrition (intravenous and tube feeding) and nutritional management for children with chronic and complex medical conditions.
  • Ronald McDonald House on campus, for an affordable home away from home during long hospital stays

We offer short bowel syndrome care at Nemours Children's Health, Jacksonville (working with Wolfson Children’s Hospital). The Ronald McDonald House of Jacksonville is also nearby for an affordable home away from home during long hospital stays.

Research & Clinical Trials

At Nemours, we’re actively researching new approaches for childhood disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

KidsHealth Library

Learn more about your child’s medical condition from the experts at Nemours’ KidsHealth.