Outcome Of Breath Tests In Adult Patients With Suspected Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth

- Apr 02, 2019-

Outcome of breath tests in adult patients with suspected small intestinal bacterial overgrowth

Johanna Mattsson,1 Maria Teresa Minaya,2 Milka Monegro,2 Benjamin Lebwohl,2 Suzanne K. Lewis,2Peter HR Green,2 and Reidun Stenberg2,3Author information Article notes Copyright and License information DisclaimerThis article has been cited by other articles in PMC.Go to:



The aim was to investigate breath test outcomes in patients with suspected SIBO and indicative symptoms of SIBO, diagnosed by breath testing.


Breath testing is used to detect small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) by measuring hydrogen and methane produced by intestinal bacteria.


This retrospective cross sectional study included 311 patients with gastrointestinal symptoms who underwent the breath test for evaluation of SIBO at Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, New York, in 2014-2015. The patients were divided into two groups based on the physician’s choice: lactulose breath test group (72%) and glucose breath test group (28%). Among them, 38% had a history of celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.


In total, 46% had a positive breath test: 18% were positive for methane, 24 % positive for hydrogen and 4% positive for both gases (p=0.014). Also, 50% had a positive lactulose breath result and 37% had a positive glucose breath result (p=0.036). The most common symptom for performing the breath test was bloating and the only clinical symptom that significantly showed a positive glucose breath test was increased gas (p=0.028).


Lactulose breath test was more often positive than glucose breath test. Positivity for hydrogen was more common than methane. Bloating was the most frequently perceived symptom of the patients undergoing the breath test but the only statistically significant clinical symptom for a positive glucose breath test was increased gas. Furthermore, the results showed that there was no significant association between positive breath test result and gender, age, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.



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