Sensitivity of bile acid breath test in the diagnosis of bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine with and without the stagnant (blind) loop syndrome
- Cite this article as:
- Farivar, S., Fromm, H., Schindler, D. et al. Digest Dis Sci (1979) 24: 33. doi:10.1007/BF01297235
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The bile acid breath test was studied to examine its sensitivity for establishing the diagnosis of bacterial overgrowth in comparison to that of the Schilling test and small-intestinal cultures in 12 patients with a stagnant (blind) loop syndrome, as well as in 38 patients who had other conditions with suspected bacterial contamination of the small intestine. The presence of bile acid malabsorption was excluded in all 50 patients by studies of fecal excretion of radioactively labeled bile acids. The bile acid breath test was positive in 100% (12/12) of the patients with a stagnant (blind) loop syndrome, whereas 92% (11/12) had a positive Schilling test and 75% (9/12) a positive small-intestinal culture. The abnormal tests improved only in 2 of 4 patients treated with tetracycline. In the group of 38 patients without demonstrable dilated or blind loops of small bowel who were suspected of having bacterial contamination of small bowel, the bile acid breath test was positive in 53% (20/38), the Schilling test in 39% (15/38), and the small-intestinal culture in 45% (17/38). The difference in the incidence of positive results between the tests in the two patient groups was statistically not significant. The findings of these studies have the following diagnostic implications: (1) Bile acid breath test, Schilling test, and cultures of aspirates from the upper small bowel are of comparable sensitivity in the detection of bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. (2) A negative bile acid breath test makes the diagnosis of a stagnant (blind) loop syndrome very unlikely.