Short bowel syndrome: A condition due to loss of half or more of their small intestine removed because of surgical removal or disease of the small intestine. Common reasons for removing part of the small intestine include surgery for Crohn's disease; necrotizing enterocolitis, an infectious inflammatory disease of premature newborns; intestinal atresia, failure of development of part of the intestine; and volvulus, which occurs when the bowel gets twisted and the blood supply is impaired.
Diarrhea is the main symptom of short bowel syndrome. Other symptoms include floating stools and foul-smelling stools, intestinal cramping, bloating, and heartburn. Many people with short bowel syndrome are malnourished because their remaining small intestine is unable to absorb enough water, vitamins, and other nutrients from food. They may also become dehydrated, which can be life threatening. Problems associated with dehydration and malnutrition include weight loss, weakness, fatigue, anemia, and bacterial infections.