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    Blind loop syndrome

    Stasis syndrome; Stagnant loop syndrome

    Blind loop syndrome occurs when part of the intestine becomes bypassed. Digested food slows or stops moving through part of the intestines. This causes bacteria to grow too much in the intestines and leads to problems in absorbing nutrients.

    Causes

    The name of this condition refers to the "blind loop" formed by the bypassed intestine. This blind loop does not allow digested food to flow normally through the intestinal tract.

    When a section of the intestine is affected by blind loop syndrome, the bile salts needed to digest fats become ineffective. This leads to fatty stools and poor absorption of fat and fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamin B12 deficiency may occur because the extra bacteria that develop in this situation use up all of the vitamin.

    Blind loop syndrome is a complication that occurs:

    • After many operations, including subtotal gastrectomy (surgical removal of part of the stomach) and operations for extreme obesity
    • As a complication of inflammatory bowel disease

    Diseases such as diabetes or scleroderma may slow down movement in a segment of the intestine, leading to blind loop syndrome.

    Symptoms

    • Diarrhea
    • Fatty stools
    • Fullness after a meal
    • Loss of appetite
    • Nausea
    • Unintentional weight loss

    Exams and Tests

    During a physical examination, the doctor may notice a mass in, or swelling of, the abdomen. Possible tests include:

    • Abdominal CT scan
    • Abdominal x-ray
    • Blood tests to check nutritional status
    • Upper GI series with small bowel follow through contrast x-ray

    Treatment

    Treatment generally starts with antibiotics for the excess bacteria growth, along with vitamin B12 supplements. If antibiotics don't work, surgery to help the food flow through the intestine may be considered.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    Many patients get better with antibiotics. If surgical repair is needed, the outcome isusually very good.

    Possible Complications

    • Complete intestinal obstruction
    • Death of intestine (intestinal infarction)
    • Hole (perforation) in intestine
    • Malabsorption and malnutrition

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of blind loop syndrome.

    References

    Semrad CE. Approach to the patient with diarrhea and malabsorption. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 142.

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      A Closer Look

        Self Care

          Tests for Blind loop syndrome

            Review Date: 2/19/2012

            Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

            The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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            St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
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