Treatment depends on how severe the condition is. It also depends on how long it’s been since your child had his or her small intestine removed.
After surgery, your child’s remaining intestine slowly adapts. Over time, it is able to absorb nutrients better. This process can take a year or two. This varies depending on how much and what part of your child’s small intestine was taken out.
Your child will likely have feedings through an IV (parenteral) after surgery. This means that he or she won’t eat anything. Instead, he or she will get nutrients through a tube placed in the vein.
As your child recovers, his or her healthcare provider may slowly start enteral feedings. This gives liquid nutrition directly to your child’s stomach or small intestine through a feeding tube. Over time, your child’s healthcare provider will try to increase the enteral feedings and decrease the parenteral feedings. If your child is a baby, he or she may be able to get breastmilk in the enteral feeding.
Your child’s healthcare provider may eventually move him or her to oral feedings. He or she will need to eat small meals often. He or she will also need to stay away from foods that are high in simple carbohydrates, such as juices. Your child may need more calories than other children because of the loss of part of the intestine.
Some people with severe short bowel syndrome will need long-term parenteral nutrition. This can sometimes cause problems. If this happens, your child may need a small intestine transplantation. Or your child’s healthcare provider may suggest a non-transplantation surgery. This can improve how your child absorbs nutrients.
Other treatments for short bowel syndrome include:
- Special diet
- H2 blockers or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). These are medicines to decrease stomach secretions.
- Medicines to treat diarrhea
- Extra nutritional supplements such as fiber or fat
- Electrolyte solutions. Your child may take these by mouth (orally) or through an IV (intravenous line).
- Medicines to prevent liver damage. These are given to children on parenteral nutrition.
- Medicines to help the small intestine adapt