Short Bowel Syndrome and Crohn’s Disease

Short Bowel Syndrome (sometimes referred to as SBS) is a disorder that affects people who have had large portions of their small intestine surgically removed as a result of a digestive illness, such as Crohn’s disease. Approximately 10,000–20,000 people in the United States have short bowel syndrome.

The bowel consists of two parts, the small and large intestines. The large intestine, also known as the colon, is about five feet long. It is the thicker, lower end of the digestive tract. Its main purpose is to absorb water and electrolytes from solid waste before the waste is eliminated from the body. The body can safely live without some (or all) of the colon. The small intestine makes up the narrower portion of the bowel and is approximately 23 feet in length for a full-grown adult. Nearly all digestion of food and absorption of nutrients takes place in the small intestine. Because of its essential function in nutrition, losing portions of the small bowel to surgery can have significant negative effects.

Learn more about short bowel syndrome, its causes, and treatments -- download the Short Bowel Syndrom and Crohn's Disease brochure.

For further information, call Crohn's & Colitis Foundation's IBD Help Center: 888.MY.GUT.PAIN (888.694.8872).

The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation provides information for educational purposes only. We encourage you to review this educational material with your health care professional. The Foundation does not provide medical or other health care opinions or services. The inclusion of another organization's resources or referral to another organization does not represent an endorsement of a particular individual, group, company or product.

About this resource

Published: August 8, 2013

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