Maldigestion / Malabsorption

Maldigestion and malabsorption of nutrients typically results in malnutrition. It commonly occurs in a wide range of diseases like short-bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and pancreatic insufficiency.

The so-called short-bowel syndrome occurs when a combination of loss of bowel due to resection and/or dysfunction of the remaining bowel reduces intestinal absorption such that requirements of fluid, electrolytes, macronutrients, minerals, and vitamins are difficult to meet with normal nutrition. Symptoms of short-bowel syndrome include large volume diarrhea, thirst, and weight loss.

Patients suffering from pancreatic insufficiency have a decreased production of digestive enzymes resulting in maldigestion and malabsorption. The pancreas produces most of digestive enzymes, which are substances being essential for the digestion of nutrients and are, therefore, important for nutrient utilisation. Particularly patients with chronic pancreatitis are at increased risk of becoming malnourished.

Inflammatory bowel diseases include Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Crohn's disease can involve any part of the alimentary tract from the mouth to the anus, whereas ulcerative colitis is a mucosal disease restricted to the colon. Mechanisms contributing to malnutrition in inflammatory bowel diseases include decreased food intake due to discomfort, diarrhea and dietary restrictions. Additionally, malabsorption of nutrients, increased nutrient requirements, resulting from fever and inflammation as well as drug nutrient interactions contribute to malnutrition.

Due to the impaired digestion and absorption of nutrients in these disease entities, the tolerance of so-called pre-digested enteral diets (oligopeptide diets) are considered to be good therapeutic options. In the case of non-tolerance of enteral nutrition, parenteral nutrition has to be considered.

Fresenius Kabi offers parenteral and enteral products particularly suited to dietary management in patients with maldigestion and malabsorption.