Breath hydrogen excretion in patients with alcoholic liver disease—evidence of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth

C Bode, R Kolepke, K Schäfer, J C Bode
Zeitschrift Für Gastroenterologie 1993, 31 (1): 3-7
The hydrogen breath test has been used to investigate the incidence of small-bowel bacterial overgrowth in 45 chronic alcoholics and in 60 controls with no history of alcohol abuse. In the group of patients with alcoholic liver disease, the percentage of cases with bacterial overgrowth was almost three times (37.8%) that of controls not abusing alcohol (13.3%; p < 0.001). A separate evaluation of alcoholics with cirrhosis in comparison with those without cirrhosis, revealed no significant difference in the incidence of bacterial overgrowth (42.9% and 33.3%; p > 0.05). Some 16.7% of the controls and 8.9% of the patients with alcoholic liver disease were classified as "non-excreters". Among patients with alcoholic liver disease, the mouth-to-caecum transit time was prolonged by 21.5% in comparison with the controls not abusing alcohol (p < 0.025). The results suggest that bacterial overgrowth might contribute to the functional and/or morphological abnormalities of the small intestine commonly found in patients with chronic alcohol abuse.

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