A shortened small intestine may end at a stoma or be anastomosed to the colon. Patients with a jejunostomy, but not those with a colon, lose large amounts of sodium. The intake and absorption of sodium can be increased by sipping a sodium–glucose solution: stomal loss can be reduced by restricting water or low-sodium drinks. If a stoma is situated less than 100 cm along the jejunum, a constant negative sodium balance may necessitate parenteral saline supplements. Gastric anti-secretory drugs or a somatostatin analogue reduce jejunostomy losses in such patients but do not restore a positive sodium balance. Loperamide or codeine phosphate benefit some patients. Magnesium deficiency can usually be corrected by oral magnesium oxide supplements. An elemental or hydrolysed diet is not beneficial. Patients with a jejunostomy can maintain a normal diet without fat reduction.

When the colon is present, unabsorbed carbohydrate is fermented to absorbable short chain fatty acids. Unabsorbed long chain fatty acids and bile salts cause watery diarrhoea and increased colonic oxalate absorption with hyperoxaluria. Such patients benefit from a high carbohydrate, low-fat and low-oxalate diet.

Parenteral nutrition is needed only by the few patients unable to maintain health or avoid socially disabling diarrhoea despite these measures.