Small and large intestine

Small and large intestine

  • The small intestine (also known as the small bowel) is the longest portion of the digestive tract - it is more than 6 meters long and is located within the middle of the abdomen. It has three sections, the duodenum, jejunum and ileum. It completes the digestion of dietary fats, proteins and fats. The inner lining contains very small finger-like bumps called 'villi' which increase the surface available for absorption. The final nutrients produced are absorbed through this lining and transferred to the bloodstream. The large intestine (also known as the colon) reabsorbs water, nutrients and maintains the fluid balance of the body. It also processes undigested material (fibre) and stores waste before it is eliminated. Disorders are common diagnosed and treated by Dr Samuel include:
  • Coeliac disease
  • Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative colitis
  • Iron deficiency
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Microscopic Colitis
  • Colorectal Cancer - Sporadic and Hereditary
  • Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) and Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC)
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common functional gastrointestinal disorder (FGID) affecting one in seven Australian adults and is also common in the USA, Europe and many Asian countries. This condition is characterised by chronic and relapsing symptoms; lower abdominal pain and discomfort, bloating, wind, distension and altered bowel habit (ranging from diarrhoea to constipation) but with no abnormal pathology. The diagnosis of IBS/FGID should be made by a medical practitioner

  • Small bowel diseases
  • Pelvic floor dysfunction

The pelvic floor is a muscle sheet which closes the pelvis from below and above sit the bladder, uterus (womb) and rectum. The openings from these organs, the urethra from the bladder, the vagina from the uterus and the anus from the bowel pierce through the pelvic floor. Pelvic floor weakness can occur with a difficult childbirth or straining over time from constipation, heavy lifting, excess coughing or being overweight and can be worsened by hormonal changes at menopause, and with aging. Patients can develop downward slippage of organs causing rectal intussusception or prolapse. Conditions related include: faecal incontinence, obstructed defaecation syndrome, chronic anorectal pain, solitary rectal ulcer syndrome. Often patients improve with diet, stool softeners and pelvic floor retraining with biofeedback. Surgery may be needed.

  • Faecal incontinence
Faecal incontinence ranges from lack of control of wind to a complete loss of control of stool It affects about 10-15% of the population. It is cause by damage to sphincter muscles, nerves or pelvic floor with prolapse.  Some suffer from leakage of stool from the anal canal without awareness that it is happening (so called passive incontinence) or after evacuation (post-defaecatory leakage or soiling). Others know that they need to open their bowels but cannot get to the toilet in time (so called urge incontinence). Most are helped with pelvic floor physiotherapy and firming the stool with loperamide. Surgery is an option.
  • Haemorrhoids and anal fissure