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Taking Charge of Your Health


Intestinal failure is an inability or compromise
in our GI tract’s ability to perform its function. For instance, if there is a reduction
in the length of our intestines or if there is inflammation or inability to absorb and
maintain the adequate amount of proteins, electrolytes, fluids and calories. Certain complications associated with poor
nutritional intake or inadequate nutrition includes compromise in the immune system,
inability to grow, muscle wasting and atrophy, inability to maintain really the function
of the organs throughout the body. The body’s functions can start to cannibalize
itself and that’s why we see people who are starting to use up their own internal
stores to the point where they are unable to maintain just regular bodily functions. Sometimes intestinal failure is diagnosed
by the knowledge beforehand that there is a shortened length of small bowel, or after
one has actually undergone multiple surgeries or severe inflammatory disease. There are several outcomes for a patient with
short bowel syndrome or intestinal failure. For the lucky ones, they have adapted to the
shortened bowel and had compensatory growth and an increased absorption. You also have
patients who have intestinal failure and require supplementation with IV nutrition. One of the fortunate developments is that
there is ongoing research as well as recent developments in the care of these patients.
Even in our own anecdotal experience, we have been able to either reduce the amount
of time that somebody would need IV nutrition or even sometimes wean them completely off
IV nutrition. There are also surgical techniques that can
be utilized for this disease. For instance, we do have experience with bowel lengthening
procedures, using your same segment of small intestine and by cutting it in a zigzag fashion,
you can create an elongated segment of bowel And then there is also the option of small
bowel transplant, from a donor. There is very emergent research on potential
use of stem cells and the development of artificial organs created on a scaffolding with stem
cells. In the presence of a shortened bowel, there
are certain foods that become a little bit less tolerant than if you were to have a normal
length bowel. So we may include the dietician and nutritional therapies. There really isn’t a magic bullet to really
address the problem, it’s actually a complex interplay of the different nutritional, pharmacologic and also a lifestyle change in strategies that actually together provides improvement
in the quality of life. And that is why a multidisciplinary care of the patient is actually
very important to provide the best quality care in this very complex, disease.

4 thoughts on “New Treatments for Intestinal Failure

  1. Interesting video but ultimately nothing new, and this is a horrible disiease. I can barely maintain 100 pounds but cause is unknown. Iv feeds have been poison to me. Hoping the experiments continue. My six kids deserve it.

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