The small intestine is the longest section of your digestive tract, measuring about 20 feet (6.1 meters). The small intestine is where food mixes with digestive juices and nutrients are absorbed into your bloodstream.
Unlike your large intestine (colon), your small intestine normally has relatively few bacteria. But in blind loop syndrome, stagnant food in the bypassed small intestine becomes an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. The bacteria may produce toxins as well as block the absorption of nutrients.
The greater the length of small bowel involved in the blind loop, the greater the chance of bacterial overgrowth.
What triggers blind loop syndrome?
Blind loop syndrome can be caused by:
- Complications of abdominal surgery, including gastric bypass for obesity and gastrectomy to treat peptic ulcers and stomach cancer
- Structural problems in and around your small intestine, including scar tissue (intestinal adhesions) on the outside of the bowel and small, bulging pouches of tissue that protrude through the intestinal wall (diverticulosis)
- Certain medical conditions, including Crohn's disease, radiation enteritis, scleroderma, celiac disease, obesity and diabetes, can slow movement (motility) of food and waste products through the small intestine