Update on surgical therapies for intestinal failure

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Purpose of review

Parenteral nutrition enables long-term survival in patients with intestinal failure; however, it is associated with life-threatening complications necessitating alternative techniques of management to enable weaning parenteral nutrition and minimizing parenteral nutrition-associated comorbidities. This review aims at discussing the indications and techniques most commonly utilized for surgical management in a short gut.

Recent findings

Surgical therapy for short gut has evolved and undergone refinement in the past 30–40 years with the older procedures being largely abandoned and replaced by newer and refined techniques. Lengthening surgeries (longitudinal intestinal lengthening and tapering and serial transverse enteroplasty) are the most commonly applied procedures in a dilated bowel with intestinal transplantation option reserved as a last resort for recurrent life-threatening central venous line infections, progressive loss of central venous access, and development of progressive liver disease.


Management of intestinal failure requires a multidisciplinary approach to optimize intestinal rehabilitation and overall patient outcome. Although intestinal transplantation remains an excellent option for patients with severe life-threatening complications, autologous intestinal reconstruction appears to remain the better overall option.

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