During the digestive process, food enters your small intestine and is broken down so that nutrients can be absorbed. When a section of the small intestine makes a loop that food doesn’t pass through, it’s known as blind loop syndrome. The presence of a loop or section of the intestine that no longer carries food through can slow down digestive function and lead to issues with an overgrowth of bacteria.
Most cases of blind loop syndrome, which is also known as stagnant loop syndrome or stasis syndrome, happen after abdominal surgery. But you can also develop a blind loop due to a structural problem with your small intestine or the formation of scar tissue over time due to intestinal adhesions. Some digestive conditions, such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease, can damage the small intestine over time and lead to the formation of loops.
If you have a blind loop in your small intestine, you may begin to experience digestive issues that include bloating, pain, nausea and diarrhea. Many patients experience a reduced appetite since food is no longer traveling through the digestive system as it should, and this can lead to weight loss. If these symptoms persist for more than a few days, or if you have recently had abdominal surgery, you should see your medical professional.
Blind loop syndrome is caused by an overgrowth in bacteria within a person’s intestinal tract. Unlike our large intestine, also known as the colon, our small intestine is home to relatively few bacteria. Here, in our small intestine, food and digestive juices mingle. It is in the small intestine that nutrients are absorbed into a person’s bloodstream. When the overgrowth of bacteria occurs, digested food is no longer able to move easily or quickly through a person’s intestine. The blockage becomes a kind of internal petri dish for bacteria, which may prevent the person from being able to absorb necessary nutrients and vitamins. The bacteria may also produce toxic substances.
Blind loop syndrome may be triggered by a variety of factors or reasons. All of these triggers are in some way connected to an individual’s intestinal health. Certain medical procedures may lead to blind loop syndrome. Complications and side effects as a result of gastric bypass may result in the syndrome, as well as surgeries used to treat ulcers and stomach cancer.
Additionally, complications from a number of medical conditions which affect someone’s intestinal health may cause blind loop syndrome. Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, diabetes, obesity, radiation enteritis, and scleroderma, can all completely obstruct or significantly hinder the flow of substances which necessarily pass through the small intestine, such as waste products and food.
Since bacterial overgrowth often causes the symptoms associated with blind loop syndrome, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Your doctor may also advise you to follow a specific diet, such as eliminating the lactose found in dairy products that can irritate the small intestine.
However, these don’t fix the root of the problem, which is the loop in the intestine. In most cases of blind loop syndrome, surgery is needed to repair the loop and remove any scar tissue that may have formed.
Unfortunately, blind loop syndrome is not always preventable. The avoidance of any unnecessary or risky medical procedures which affect the stomach or gastrointestinal tract is recommended. Proper treatment and management of medical conditions which may affect or compromise one’s intestinal health is always recommended in order to prevent syndromes such as blind loop syndrome. Although blind loop syndrome is very often treatable, and this treatment normally results in generally positive outcomes, the condition produces many negative side effects which are best avoided altogether.