Short Bowel Syndrome – Diagnosis of Short Bowel Syndrome

Short bowel syndrome

is a condition in which there is a malabsorption of the ingested food due to surgical removal of a large portion of the small intestine or severe intestinal disease.

Actually, the word ‘Short Bowel Syndrome’ means a group of problems related to malabsorption. The disease is also called ‘short gut syndrome’ or short gut. People suffering from short bowel syndrome has symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating, heartburn, steatorrhea, fluid retention, weakness and fatigue. In this article, we shall discuss how short bowel syndrome is diagnosed.

Diagnosis of Short Bowel Syndrome

Physical Examination:

The first step in diagnosis of short bowel syndrome is a thorough physical examination. It reveals many clues to the diagnosis, depending on the severity and duration of the malabsorption. The doctor investigates all the nutrient deficiencies that occur due to malabsorption. Following observations are considered during the diagnosis:

  • Those who are severely malnourished due protein deficiency and have low energy may have dry skin, unusual nails, temporal wasting, loss of muscle mass, and peripheral edema.
  • Those with essential fatty acid deficiency experience dermatitis, growth retardation, and alopecia.
  • Those with vitamin deficiencies show their corresponding symptoms such as people with vitamin A deficiency experience corneal ulcerations and growth delays; vitamin B-1 deficiency have edema, tachycardia and depressed deep tendon reflexes; vitamin B-6 deficiency have peripheral neuropathies and seizures; vitamin D deficiency have bowed extremities; vitamin E deficiency have edema, ataxia, and depressed deep tendon reflexes; and vitamin K deficiency have ecchymoses, petechiae, purpura, or outright bleeding diatheses.
  • Those with iron deficiency have spooned nails, pallor, and glossitis. People with zinc deficiency have poor wound healing and a scaly erythematous rash that appear around the mouth, nose, eyes and perineum.

Diagnostic tests

taken up to diagnose short bowel syndrome are:

  • Blood chemistry test
  • Complete blood count
  • Fecal fat test

You can get more information about causes, symptoms, complications and treatment of short bowel syndrome in related articles on this site.


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