Diagnosis of Short Bowel Syndrome

How do doctors diagnose short bowel syndrome?

To diagnose short bowel syndrome, find out how severe it is, and check for complications, your doctor will ask about your medical history and symptoms, perform a physical exam, and order tests.

Medical history

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and your medical history, including whether you ever had surgery to remove part of the small intestine.

Physical exam

During a physical exam, your doctor may examine your body for signs of malnutrition, dehydration, low levels of certain vitamins and minerals, or other complications of short bowel syndrome.

Patient speaking with a doctor.Your doctor will ask about your medical history and symptoms.

What tests do doctors use to diagnose short bowel syndrome?

Doctors may order blood, stool, or imaging tests to diagnose short bowel syndrome, check for complications, or help find the right treatment.

Blood tests

For a blood test, a health care professional will take a sample of your blood and send it to a lab. Doctors may use blood tests to check the levels of vitamins and minerals. Blood tests may also show signs of complications.

Stool tests

A health care professional will give you a container for catching and storing the stool. You will receive instructions on where to send or take the container for analysis. Doctors may use stool tests to check how well the small intestine is working.

Imaging tests

Doctors may order imaging tests to examine the small intestine or to check for signs of complications. Imaging tests may include

Last Reviewed April 2023
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This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.