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The prevalence of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in non-surgical patients with chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic exocrine insufficiency (PEI)


Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a condition characterised by symptoms similar to pancreatic exocrineinsufficiency (PEI) in chronic pancreatitis patients. SIBO is thought to complicate chronic pancreatitis in up to 92% of cases; however, studies are heterogeneous and protocols non-standardised.
SIBO may be determined by measuring lung air-expiration of either hydrogen or methane which are by-products of small bowel bacterial fermentation of intraluminal substrates such as carbohydrates. We evaluated the prevalence of SIBO among a defined cohort of non-surgical chronic pancreatitics with mild to severe PEI compared with matched healthy controls.


Thirty-five patients and 31 age-, gender- and smoking status-matched healthy controls were evaluated for SIBO by means of a fasting glucose hydrogen breath test (GHBT). The relationship between SIBO and clinical symptoms in chronic pancreatitis was evaluated.


SIBO was present in 15% of chronic pancreatitis patients, while no healthy controls tested positive (P = 0.029). SIBO was more prevalent in those taking pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT) (P = 0.016), with proton pump inhibitor use (PPI) (P = 0.022) and in those with alcohol aetiology (P = 0.023).
Patients with concurrent diabetes were more often SIBO-positive and this was statistically significant (P = 0.009). There were no statistically significant differences in reported symptoms between patients with and without SIBO, with the exception of 'weight loss', with patients reporting weight loss more likely to have SIBO (P = 0.047).


The prevalence of SIBO in this study was almost 15% and consistent with other studies of SIBO in non-surgical chronic pancreatitis patients. These data support the testing of patients with clinically-relevant PEI unresolved by adequate doses of PERT, particularly in those patients with concurrent diabetes. SIBO can be easily diagnosed therefore allowing more specific and more targeted symptom treatment.

Pancreatology. 2018 Jun;18(4):379−385
Ní Chonchubhair HM, Bashir Y, Dobson M, Ryan BM, Duggan SN, Conlon KC
doi: 10.1016/j.pan.2018.02.010

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