Rehabilitation for Short Bowel Syndrome

As noted in several blog posts, there have been some important advances in the care of short bowel syndrome (SBS)/intestinal failure (IF) patients which have resulted in improved outcomes.  A recent review of 28 children with ≤20 cm of small bowel has been published (J Pediatr 2013; 163: 1361-6, editorial 1243) and provides tangible evidence of these changes.

This retrospective study reviewed the charts of these children managed at Omaha’s intestinal rehabilitation program.  7 patients had NEC, 6 intestinal atresia, 6 had gastroschisis, 3 omphalocele, 5 had malrotation, and 1 patient had vascular disease.

Key results:

  • 27 survived (96%)
  • 14 (50%) had at least one lengthening procedure; in this cohort, bowel lengthening was not associated with a greater rate of adaptation than native bowel.
  • 13/27 (48%) achieved parenteral nutrition independence (“nutritional autonomy”) with their native bowel.
  • Predictors of “successfully rehabilitated” patients: intact colon and ileocecal valve
  • All patients had improvements in lowering PN requirements, total bilirubin, and growth z-scores.
  • Serum transaminase levels did not improve in the nonrehabilitated patients

The main medical treatments at IRP include use of agents for control of bacterial overgrowth, reducing gastric acid production, lipid minimization, promotility and antimotility agents (eg. loperamide), and ethanol locks.  The editorial comments on the “poor results” for surgical intervention, “particularly among those with ultra-short bowel.” This may be due to ‘marginal motility, ischemia, severe wall thickening, or due to adhesions.’

With regard to ethanol locks, the editorial supports them but states, “the main factor in prevention [of line infections] has been maintaining a consistent and strict protocol for catheter care.”

Previous related blog entries: