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Blind loop syndrome

Stasis syndrome; Stagnant loop syndrome

 

Blind loop syndrome occurs when digested food slows or stops moving through part of the intestines. This causes an overgrowth of bacteria in the intestines. It also leads to problems absorbing nutrients.

Causes

 

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

The substances needed to digest fats (called bile salts) do not work as they should when a section of the intestine is affected by blind loop syndrome. This prevents fat and fat-soluble vitamins from being absorbed into the body. It also leads to fatty stools. Vitamin B12 deficiency may occur because the extra bacteria that form in the blind loop use up this 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

 

Symptoms include:

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

 

Exams and Tests

 

During a physical exam, the health care provider 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 most often starts with antibiotics for the excess bacteria growth, along with vitamin B12 supplements. If antibiotics are not effective, surgery may be needed to help food flow through the intestines.

 

Outlook (Prognosis)

 

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

 

Possible Complications

 

Complications may include:

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

 

When to Contact a Medical Professional

 

Call your 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. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 140.

 
  • Digestive system

    Digestive system - illustration

    The esophagus, stomach, large and small intestine, aided by the liver, gallbladder and pancreas convert the nutritive components of food into energy and break down the non-nutritive components into waste to be excreted.

    Digestive system

    illustration

  • Stomach and small intestine

    Stomach and small intestine - illustration

    The stomach connects the esophagus to the small intestines and is where the majority of food digestion takes place.

    Stomach and small intestine

    illustration

    • Digestive system

      Digestive system - illustration

      The esophagus, stomach, large and small intestine, aided by the liver, gallbladder and pancreas convert the nutritive components of food into energy and break down the non-nutritive components into waste to be excreted.

      Digestive system

      illustration

    • Stomach and small intestine

      Stomach and small intestine - illustration

      The stomach connects the esophagus to the small intestines and is where the majority of food digestion takes place.

      Stomach and small intestine

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

      Talking to your MD

       

        Self Care

         

          Tests for Blind loop syndrome

           

             

            Review Date: 10/27/2015

            Reviewed By: Subodh K. Lal, MD, gastroenterologist with Gastrointestinal Specialists of Georgia, Austell, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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