Blind loop syndrome
Blind loop syndrome
Blind loop syndrome occurs when part of the small intestine becomes bypassed. The "blind loop" formed by the bypassed intestine means food can't move normally through the digestive tract. The slowly moving food and waste products become a breeding ground for bacteria, which can lead to a condition called bacterial overgrowth. As a result, nutrients may not be fully absorbed. Blind loop syndrome often causes diarrhea and may cause weight loss and malnutrition.
Blind loop syndrome — sometimes called stasis syndrome or stagnant loop syndrome — often occurs as a complication of stomach (abdominal) surgery. But blind loop syndrome can also result from structural problems and some diseases. Sometimes surgery is needed to correct the problem, but antibiotics are the most common treatment.
Signs and symptoms of blind loop syndrome often include:
When to see a doctor
If you have severe abdominal pain, get immediate medical care.
The small intestine is the longest section of your digestive tract, measuring about 20 feet (6.1 meters). The small intestine is where food mixes with digestive juices and nutrients are absorbed into your bloodstream.
Unlike your large intestine (colon), your small intestine normally has relatively few bacteria. But in blind loop syndrome, stagnant food in the bypassed small intestine becomes an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. The bacteria may produce toxins as well as block the absorption of nutrients. The greater the length of small bowel involved in the blind loop, the greater the chance of bacterial overgrowth.
What triggers blind loop syndrome
Your digestive tract stretches from your mouth to your anus. It includes the organs necessary to digest food and process waste. ...
Factors that increase your risk of blind loop syndrome include:
A blind loop can cause escalating problems, including:
Preparing for your appointment
If you have signs and symptoms that are common to blind loop syndrome, make an appointment with your doctor. After an initial evaluation, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in treatment of digestive disorders (gastroenterologist).
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
Information to gather in advance
Don't hesitate to ask questions. Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
What to expect from your doctor
Tests and diagnosis
The first step in diagnosing blind loop syndrome is usually an imaging test, such as:
You may have additional tests to check for bacterial overgrowth in your small intestine, poor fat absorption, or other problems that may be causing or contributing to your symptoms:
If your doctor believes that bacterial overgrowth is very likely, he or she may begin treatment with antibiotics immediately without specific testing.
Treatments and drugs
Whenever possible, doctors treat blind loop syndrome by dealing with the underlying problem — for example, by surgically repairing a postoperative blind loop, stricture or fistula. But the blind loop can't always be reversed. In that case, treatment focuses on correcting nutritional deficiencies and eliminating bacterial overgrowth.
Doctors may also switch among different drugs to help prevent bacterial resistance. Antibiotics wipe out most intestinal bacteria, both normal and abnormal. As a result, antibiotics can cause some of the very problems they're trying to cure, including diarrhea. Switching among different drugs can help avoid this problem.
These treatments may improve vitamin deficiencies, reduce intestinal distress and help with weight gain:
Last Updated: 2012-03-01
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