Testing & Diagnosis for Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS) in Children

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Contact the Short Bowel Program

To determine whether your child has short bowel syndrome, her 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 - a diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones and organs onto film.

abdominal ultrasound - a diagnostic imaging technique which uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of blood vessels, tissues and organs. Ultrasounds are used to view internal organs as they function, and to assess blood flow through various vessels.

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.

After we complete any necessary tests, we’ll meet with you and your family to discuss the results and the best way to proceed.

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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