SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth): How common is it, and how should we diagnose it?
M. Brian Fennerty • August 29th, 2012
Our hospital used to provide hydrogen breath testing for the community but recently discontinued this practice. I was asked to comment on whether it should be discontinued and how often I used the test. It surprised me that I had not ordered a hydrogen breath test in the 2 decades I have been here but that many docs did. Although all of us are aware that small intestinal bacterial overgrowth can occur (e.g., scleroderma-type bowel motility disorders, post-operative blind loops, etc.), it seems that this diagnosis is being made more often in otherwise normal people without an obvious etiology.
So the conversation I want to generate is the following:
1) How often do you entertain a diagnosis of SIBO, and what symptoms/settings make you consider the diagnosis?
2) Do you think SIBO is being overdiagnosed or underdiagnosed?
3) If you consider SIBO, do you do a diagnostic test, and, if so, which one?
4) Given that no test for SIBO is validated against a gold-standard diagnosis, how do you chose the test you are using?
5) If you do not test for bacterial overgrowth, do you treat empirically, and, if so, with what?
6) What test characteristics do you want to see before you would use a test for bacterial overgrowth?
I look forward to the conversation!