Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS) | Testing and Diagnosis

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Contact the Short Bowel Program

How is short bowel syndrome diagnosed?

To diagnosis short bowel syndrome, your child's doctor will take a detailed medical history, perform a physical examination and run a series of tests. Some of these tests will determine the level of nutrients that your child’s body needs and is absorbing, including:

  • blood tests: to assess the level of nutrients absorbed in the blood stream
  • stool sample: to check for non-absorbed sugar and protein, and for the presence of infection or blood
  • breath hydrogen analysis: to quantify the degree of malabsorption of carbohydrate or sugars as well as to determine whether excess quantities of bacteria are growing inside the bowel
  • indirect calorimetry: a test to analyze the nutritional needs of your child in the form of calories, carbohydrates, protein and fat

Your child’s doctor may also order imaging tests to show any structural problems with the intestine that could be causing the symptoms:

  • abdominal x-ray
  • abdominal ultrasound
  • endoscopy: A test that uses a small, flexible tube with a light and a camera lens at the end (endoscope) to examine the inside of part of the digestive tract. Tissue samples from inside the digestive tract may also be taken for examination and testing.
  • colonoscopy: A test that uses a long, flexible tube with a light and camera lens at the end (colonoscope) to examine inside the large intestine. As with the endoscopy, tissue samples from inside the digestive tract may also be taken for examination and testing.
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