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Blind loop syndrome

Blind loop syndrome is a medical condition that occurs when the intestine is obstructed, slowing or stopping the progress of digested food, and thus facilitating the growth of bacteria to the point that problems in nutrient absorption occur.



The obstruction of a section of intestine causes ineffective bile salt mediated digestion of fats, causing fatty stools and poor absorption of fat and fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamin B12 deficiency may occur because the increased bacterial population can consume the vitamin.


Blind loop syndrome is a complication of surgical operations of the abdomen, as well as inflammatory bowel disease or scleroderma.


  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fullness after a meal
  • Fatty stools
  • Unintentional weight loss

Signs and tests

A physical examination may reveal a mass or distention of the abdomen.

Tests which may be useful for diagnosis include:

  • Abdominal x-ray
  • Abdominal CT scan
  • Contrast enema study


The initial treatment generally involves antibiotics for the bacterial overgrowth, along with vitamin B12 supplementation. If antibiotics are not successful, surgical correction of the obstruction to allow better flow of food through the intestine may be considered.


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