Small Intestinal Transit Time Is Delayed in Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth

Bani Chander Roland, Maria M. Ciarleglio, John O. Clarke, John R. Semler, Eric Tomakin, Gerard E. Mullin, Pankaj J. Pasricha

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70 Scopus citations


Background: Altered small intestinal motility is thought to contribute to the development of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). The clinical manifestations of SIBO and consequent malabsorption are wide ranging and include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, weight loss, and nutritional deficiencies. However, due to the nonspecific nature of symptoms, the diagnosis may often be overlooked. To date, few studies have illustrated a direct relationship between impaired small intestinal motility and SIBO. In addition, further study has been limited by the technical challenges and lack of widespread availability of antroduodenal manometry. The development of a wireless motility capsule (WMC) (SmartPill) that evaluates pressure, pH, and temperature throughout the GI tract offers the potential to identify patients with small bowel transit delays who may be at risk for bacterial overgrowth. Aims: The primary aims of this study were to: (1) characterize the relationship of prolonged small bowel transit time (SBTT) in patients undergoing WMC with SIBO as based on a positive lactulose breath testing (LBT); and (2) to assess the relationship of prolonged gastric, colonic, and whole gut transit times (WGTT) and additional motility parameters with SIBO (positive LBT). We also sought to evaluate the relationship of small bowel motility parameters (SB motility index, contractions per minute, and SB peak amplitudes) with LBT results. Methods: We performed a retrospective study of consecutive patients who were referred for wireless motility testing at a single, tertiary care institution from April 2009 to December 2012. Of the 72 total patients identified, 34 underwent both WMC and LBT. Gastric, small bowel, colonic, WGTT, and SB motility parameters were measured and correlated with LBT results. Statistical methods utilized for data analysis include ANOVA, 2-sample t tests, nonparametric Kruskal Wallis test, Wilcoxon rank-sum test, and the Fisher exact test. Results: Of the 37 patients who underwent both WMC and LBT, 24 (65%) were LBT positive. The mean SBTT among those who were LBT positive was 6.6 hours as compared with 4.2 hours in those who were LBT negative (P=0.04). Among patients who were LBT positive, 47.6% had prolonged SBTT (≥6 h), whereas only 7.7% of those who were LBT negative had a delay in their SBTT (P=0.01). In addition, patients who were LBT positive were more likely to have prolongation of both colonic and WGTT versus those who were LBT negative (CTT: positive LBT=64.4 h vs. negative LBT=35.5 h, P=0.02; WGTT: positive LBT=70.5 h vs. negative LBT=44.1 h, P=0.02). However, there were no statistical differences observed between the groups for gastric emptying times or other small intestinal motility parameters (SB motility index, contractions per minute, and peak amplitudes) between the 2 groups. Conclusions: Patients with underlying SIBO have significant delays in SBTT as compared with those without. The association between prolonged SBTT and positive LBT may be useful in identifying those patients with SIBO diagnosed by LBT and potentially target therapeutic options for those refractory to standard therapy. Interestingly, patients with positive LBT did not necessarily have a generalized gastrointestinal motility (similar GETs among groups), suggesting that small bowel transit specifically predisposes to the development of SIBO. Future, prospective studies are needed to further characterize intestinal dysmotility and other contributing pathophysiological mechanisms in SIBO and to investigate the potential benefits of prokinetics in this challenging patient population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-576
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of clinical gastroenterology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 23 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gastroenterology


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