Chronic radiation enteritis and malnutrition


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Abstract

Radiation enteritis is defined as the loss of absorptive capacity of the intestine following irradiation, which is most commonly seen after radiotherapy for pelvic and abdominal malignancies. It is divided into acute and chronic forms and usually presents with diarrhea and malabsorption. Malnutrition is a common complication of chronic radiation enteritis (CRE). We reviewed the etiology, prevalence, symptoms, diagnosis and management of CRE and CRE with malnutrition in this article. Functional short bowel syndrome as a cause of malnutrition in CRE is also considered. The diagnostic work-up includes serum markers, endoscopy, cross-sectional imaging and the exclusion of alternative diagnoses such as recurrent malignancy. Management options of CRE include dietary manipulation, anti-motility agents, electrolyte correction, probiotics, parenteral nutrition, surgical resection and small bowel transplantation. Treatment may also be required for coexisting conditions including vitamin B12 deficiency, bile acid malabsorption and depression.

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