Medication Options for Short Bowel Syndrome

Medications for SBS

In recent years, pharmacological hormonal therapy (the use of hormones in medical treatment) has been introduced aiming to stimulate intestinal adaptation after intestinal resections. Clinical research involving growth hormone, glutamine, and glucagon-like peptide 2 growth hormone (GLP-2) have been studied for the treatment of SBS.

  • Teduglutide (Gattex ®), a recombinant analog of human glucagon-like peptide 2, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of adults with SBS who are dependent on parenteral support. Teduglutide works by regenerating cells in the intestinal lining, improving intestinal absorption of fluids and nutrients, and helping reduce the frequency and volume of parenteral nutrition.
  • Apraglutide is a peptide analogue of GLP-2 which is currently under development for treatment of SBS-IF, which acts as a full agonist at the GLP-2 receptor.

Both of these medications are given by subcutaneous injection. A subcutaneous injection is a method of administering medication. Subcutaneous means under the skin. In this type of injection, a short needle is used to inject a drug into the tissue layer between the skin and the muscle. Medication given this way is usually absorbed more slowly, than if injected into a vein. Sometimes, it can take up to 24 hours to be fully absorbed.

Working With a Healthcare Team

Managing SBS 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. Often, the primary care physician will take the lead in managing and coordinating the patient’s care. If an 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 based on individual needs. This will include recurring contact with healthcare providers, and the use of outside resources, all aimed at helping navigate the complexities of managing SBS long-term.



Learn more about the management and treatment of short bowel syndrome (SBS)

Adapted from IFFGD publication #294 “Managing and Treating SBS” Contributors: Evelin Eichler RD LD, Clinical Dietitian, University Medical Center Texas Tech University; Richard McCallum MD, Professor of Medicine and Founding Chair and Chief of Gastroenterology, Texas Tech University; Harold J. Boutté Jr. MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

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