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What is Intestinal Rehabilitation?

Intestinal rehabilitation programs (IRP) are a medical approach aimed at restoring and improving the function of the intestines, particularly in cases where individuals may experience issues with absorption, digestion, or other intestinal functions. This can be relevant in conditions such as short bowel syndrome, where a significant portion of the small intestine is missing or non-functional.

The main goals of intestinal rehabilitation include:

  • Nutritional Support: Providing adequate nutrition through various means such as enteral nutrition (tube feeding) or parenteral nutrition (intravenous feeding) to ensure the individual receives essential nutrients.
  • Adaptation: Helping the remaining intestine adapt to its new role by encouraging the growth and development of the existing tissue.
  • Medical Management: Addressing complications and managing symptoms related to intestinal dysfunction, such as diarrhea or malabsorption.
  • Surgical Interventions: In some cases, surgical procedures may be considered to enhance the functional capacity of the intestine or address specific issues.

It’s important to note that intestinal rehabilitation is a multidisciplinary approach involving healthcare professionals such as gastroenterologists, dietitians, surgeons, and other specialists. The specific treatment plan varies based on the individual’s condition and needs.

For more detailed and up-to-date information, it’s recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or refer to reputable medical sources and publications. If you have a specific question or need information on a particular aspect of intestinal rehabilitation, feel free to ask.

Commons Conditions Treated in Intestinal Rehabilitation Programs:

Structural intestinal failure

This is also called short-bowel syndrome (SBS).

SBS is often caused by surgery to remedy the following:

  • Gastroschisis
  • Intestinal Atresia
  • Mid-gut Volvulus / Bowel Malrotation
  • Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)
  • Omphalocele
  • Trauma to the Abdomen
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Superior Mesenteric Thrombosis
  • Tumors
  • Enterocutaneous Fistula

Functional intestinal failure

This is caused by the intestine’s inability to absorb or digest food or fluids. In this case, length isn’t the problem, it is just that the intestine isn’t working properly.

This can be caused by:

  • Chronic Intestinal Pseudo-obstruction (CIPS)
  • Hirschsprung’s Disease
  • Intestinal Dysmotility
  • Total Colonic Aganglionosis
  • Microvillous Inclusion Disease
  • Tufting Enteropathy
  • Radiation Enteritis
  • Mitochondrial Disorders
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Intestinal Disease

Who is Involved in the Intestinal Rehab Program?

Both inpatients and outpatients receive comprehensive care from a team of experts, including:

  • Neonatologist
  • Gastroenterologist
  • Surgeon
  • Hospitalist
  • Dietitians
  • Advanced nurse practitioner
  • Pharmacist
  • Speech, Occupational, and Speech Therapist’s
  • Child Life Specialist

Where Can I Go?

A commonly asked question is: Where can I find an intestinal rehab center or an intestinal rehab team to take on my care? Here are some of the more well known IRP programs in the United States. Please Note: SBSF has no affiliation with any of these medical centers listed nor its treating physicians. 

  • Nebraska Medicine (Omaha, NE)
  • Boystown National Research Hospital (Omaha, NE)
  • Nationwide Children’s Hospital (Columbus, OH)
  • Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland, OH)
  • UI Health (Chicago, IL)
  • UChicago Medicine (Chicago, IL)
  • Texas Children’s Hospital (Houstin, TX)
  • Seattle Children’s Hospital (Seattle, WA)
  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA)
  • University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • Mount Sinai Medical Center (New York)
  • Boston Children’s Hospital (Boston, MA)
  • Children’s Hospital Colorado (Denver, CO)
  • John Hopkins Medical Center (Florida)
  • MOTT Children’s Hospital (Ann Arbor, MI)
  • Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN)
  • Children’s National Hospital (DC)
  • Stanford Medicine (Stanford, CA)
  • Georgetown University Medical Center (DC)
  • UCLA Medical Center (Los Angeles, CA)

These are just some of the IRP centers spread throughout the US. For a direct referral to a program you will need to get a referral from your current treating physician. Once in contact with a medical center IR program, a nurse coordinator will work with you on the next steps of the process. They are your most valuable asset.