About Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS)

What is SBS?

The small intestine and the large intestine make up the bowel. The small intestine is where most digestion of food and absorption of nutrients occur.

SBS is a condition in which fluids and nutrients are not properly absorbed (malabsorption) across the gastrointestinal tract (gut), because a large part of the small intestine is missing.

What causes SBS?

Loss of normal bowel function occurs when there is not enough intestinal surface area left in the remaining bowel to absorb the necessary water and nutrients from food.

This is most often due to:

  • Defects existing at birth (congenital), or
  • Surgical removal of part of the small intestine (resection) due to disease or injury.

Sometimes, loss of normal bowel function may occur even when the bowel length is intact.

† These surgeries do not always result in SBS.

An overview of the anatomy of the intestine
Possible etiology