Use of clonidine to decrease intestinal fluid losses in patients with high-output short-bowel syndrome

Karen McDoniel, Beth Taylor, Way Huey, Kelly Eiden, Sharon Everett, James Fleshman, Timothy G. Buchman, David Alpers, Samuel Klein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Background: Some patients who have short bowel syndrome (SBS) have high intestinal outputs, which increases the risk of dehydration and fluid-electrolyte abnormalities and impairs quality of life. Methods: We evaluated the use of clonidine, an α2-adrenergic receptor agonist, in 2 patients with SBS and high intestinal outputs, who were refractory to conventional therapy with antidiarrheal and antisecretory agents (loperamide, belladonna, opiates, somatostatin, histamine2 receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors). The first patient (case 1) was a 29-year-old woman who had 175 cm of small bowel anastamosed to 8 cm of descending colon, ending in a colostomy. The second patient (case 2) was a 22-year-old man who had 30 cm of jejunum anastomosed to 30 cm of sigmoid colon and rectum. Results: The addition of clonidine, 0.1 mg per os (PO) 2 times per day, to the treatment regimen of case 1 decreased her ostomy output from ∼4 L/day to ∼1 L/day, eliminating the need for parenteral nutrition and fluids and decreasing the need for opiate therapy. The addition of clonidine, 0.2 mg PO 2 times per day in case 2 resulted in decreased rectal outputs from ∼4 L/day to ∼1.5 L/day. Conclusions: These results demonstrate that clonidine can effectively reduce intestinal fluid and electrolyte losses and should be considered as an additional treatment option in patients with SBS and high intestinal outputs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-268
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


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