Loss of absorptive capacity for sodium chloride as a cause of diarrhea following partial ileal and right colon resection

Kathryn A. Arrambide, Carol A. Santa Ana, Lawrence R. Schiller, Katherine H. Little, William C. Santangelo, John S. Fordtran

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29 Scopus citations


Previous studies have emphasized the role of bile acid and fat malabsorption as the cause of the diarrhea that may follow ileal and right colon resection; unabsorbed bile acids and fat are believed to reduce sodium chloride and water absorption in the remaining colon. In this paper we report studies in eight patients with severe postresection diarrhea, in search of a more basic defect in sodium chloride absorption, ie, a loss of sodium chloride absorptive capacity as a direct consequence of resection of sodium chloride absorption sites. First, we determined whether or not diarrhea persisted during a 48-hr fast; in all patients diarrhea and large fecal electrolyte losses continued during a fast. Second, we measured sodium chloride and water absorption rates during total gut perfusion with a balanced electrolyte solution; compared to normal controls, the patients absorbed 23-31% less water, sodium, and chloride. In three patients who could be studied further, the absorptive defect was markedly accentuated when the perfusing solution was such that sodium chloride absorption had to take place against a concentration gradient. These observations indicate that postresection diarrhea patients have a reduced capacity to absorb sodium chloride, particularly when there is a concentration gradient between lumen and plasma. Although all of these patients had malabsorption of radiolabeled taurocholic acid, there was only a modest and statistically insignificant reduction in daily stool weight during treatment with large doses of cholestyramine, suggesting that bile acid malabsorption was not responsible for a major part of their diarrhea. We postulate that a loss of ileal and colonic absorptive capacity for sodium chloride rather than a cathartic effect of unabsorbed bile acids or fat is the major cause of diarrhea in these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-201
Number of pages9
JournalDigestive Diseases and Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 1989


  • absorption
  • bile acids
  • diarrhea
  • intestinal resection
  • malabsorption
  • steatorrhea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Gastroenterology


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