Radiation enteritis

Alternative Names

Radiation enteropathy; Radiation-induced small bowel injury; Post-radiation enteritis

Definition of Radiation enteritis

Radiation is damage to the lining of the intestines (bowels) due to radiation therapy, a type of cancer treatment.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Radiation therapy uses high-powered x-rays, particles, or radioactive seeds to kill cancer cells.


Symptoms may be different depending on what part of the intestines received the radiation.

Signs and tests

The health care provider will do a physical exam and ask you questions about your medical history.


Starting a low-fiber diet on the first day of radiation treatment can be helpful.

Expectations (prognosis)

When the abdomen receives radiation, there is always some nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In most cases, the symptoms get better 2 – 3 weeks after treatment ends.


Jennifer K. Mannheim, ARNP, Medical Staff, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, Seattle Children’s Hospital; and George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 7/22/2010

Digestive system
Digestive system organs

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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