About the Small Intestine, Conditions & Rehabilitation
The small intestine, also known as small bowel, is a muscular organ located between the stomach and large intestine and is where the majority of nutrients are absorbed. The small intestine consists of three parts: duodenum, jejunem and ileum.
In the duodenum, food is processed and broken down to prepare for absorption. The jejunum is responsible for absorbing many of the nutrients the body needs for growth and energy. The ileum absorbs nutrients and water and connects to the ileocecal valve that controls the flow of fluid from the small to the large intestine.
The small intestine performs many vital functions for growth and development. Some of these functions are:
- Helps break down food in order to provide the body with energy to help it grow
- Absorbs minerals, including iron, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin B12 and bile salts
- Breaks down salts, nutrients and water
Some intestinal conditions include:
With these conditions, children may need surgery to have a large portion of the intestine removed. Therefore, the child will only have a part of the small intestine remaining. This condition is called short bowel syndrome (SBS).
Often, children with this disorder have a difficult time maintaining growth and development because their remaining intestine may not function properly. This can lead to feeding intolerance, including excessive diarrhea and vomiting, poor growth, frequent infections and fatigue. Intravenous nutrition (TPN) is commonly needed to help maintain normal growth.
Intestinal rehabilitation is promoting adequate nutrition and hydration to help patients maintain normal growth without surgery.
The goals of intestinal rehabilitation are:
- Promote intestinal adaptation
- Enhance growth
- Minimize infectious complications
- Reduce the risk of TPN–associated liver disease
- Avoid transplantation
Intravenous Nutrition (TPN)
TPN is intravenous feeding that is usually administered through a central line, or PICC line. It provides patients with essential fluids and nutrients, typically consisting of high concentrations of proteins, dextrose (sugars) and components like electrolytes, minerals and trace elements.
A peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC line) provides intravenous access and is designed to be used for an extended period of time. The main purposes of this line when used for intestinal rehabilitation are to:
- Provide intravenous nutrition and fluids
- Easily draw blood labs to ensure your child is receiving proper nutritional support