Causes of SBS

SBS results from either the physical loss of sections of the small intestine or from disease that prevents the small intestine from functioning properly despite normal length.1–4

Types of Intestinal resection

Physical loss

  • This usually occurs because the individual has had to have a large section of the bowel removed by surgery (Figure 1)
  • This could be due to complications of Crohn's disease, problems with the blood supply to the small intestine, cancer, a twisting or obstruction of the intestine, or even trauma and complications from other abdominal surgery1–4


Functional loss

  • This is much less common than physical loss, and happens when the patient is unable to absorb enough nutrients even though they have an intact intestine
  • Functional loss can be caused by: inflammatory bowel disease, a pseudo-obstruction of the intestine, inflammation of the intestine due to radiation therapy (radiation enteritis), or a rare genetic disorder called congenital villus atrophy that causes chronic diarrhoea1–4



  1. Hofstetter S, Stern L, Willet J. Key issues in addressing the clinical and humanistic burden of short bowel syndrome in the US. Curr Med Res Opin 2013;29(5):495–504.
  2. Jeppesen PB. Spectrum of short bowel syndrome in adults: intestinal insufficiency to intestinal failure. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr 2014;38(1 Suppl):8S–13S.
  3. O'Keefe SJ, Buchman AL, Fishbein TM, et al. Short bowel syndrome and intestinal failure: consensus definitions and overview. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2006;4(1):6–10.
  4. Buchman AL, Scolapio J, Fryer J. AGA technical review on short bowel syndrome and intestinal transplantation. Gastroenterology2003;124(4):1111–34.



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