Short bowel syndrome (SBS) is a complex, challenging condition for patients, caregivers, doctors, and other health specialists. Treatment of the condition involves life-long therapies and approaches that need to be closely monitored. Successful management of SBS depends most strongly on an informed patient and caregivers working closely with a supportive team of healthcare providers.

Working with Your Healthcare Team

Managing short bowel syndrome requires the patient and often family members working together with a team of healthcare professionals. Members of the healthcare team may include primary care physicians (for example, family doctor, pediatrician, or gastroenterologist), surgeons, nutritional specialists, nursing specialists, and pharmacists.

The primary care physician will take the lead in managing and coordinating the patient’s care. If intestinal transplant becomes necessary, other specialists may be brought in including social workers, psychologists, and financial counselors to help deal with the complexities of organ transplants.

The most important member of the healthcare team is the person with short bowel syndrome. Family members or parents of children with SBS play essential roles as caregivers.

Patients and caregivers need to have a thorough understanding of the condition and how it may best be managed in light of individual needs. This will include recurring contact with healthcare providers, and most likely use of outside resources, all aimed at helping navigate the complexities of managing SBS long term.

Adapted from IFFGD Publication #258 by: Evelin Eichler, MS, RD, LD, Clinical Dietitian, University Medical Center, Gastrointestinal Motility Nutrition Specialist, Texas Tech University, Department of Internal Medicine, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, El Paso, TX; Richard McCallum MD, FACP, FRACP (AUST), FACG, Professor of Medicine and Founding Chair and Chief of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, El Paso, TX; Susan S. Schneck, MA, International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, Milwaukee, WI; and William F. Norton, Communications Director, International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, Milwaukee, WI.

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