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Am J Gastroenterol. 2001 Oct;96(10):2962-7.

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in patients with cirrhosis: prevalence and relation with spontaneous bacterial peritonitis.

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Department of Medicine II and Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, University Hospital, Freiburg, Germany.



The significance of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in patients with cirrhosis is not fully understood and its diagnostic criteria are not uniform. We examined the association of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth with spontaneous bacterial peritonitis and compared various microbiological criteria.


Jejunal secretions from 70 patients with cirrhosis were cultivated quantitatively and classified according to various definitions. Clinical characteristics of patients were evaluated and the incidence of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis was monitored during a 1-yr follow-up.


Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, defined as > or = 10(5) total colony-forming units/ml jejunal secretions, was present in 61% of patients. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth was associated with acid-suppressive therapy (p = 0.01) and hypochlorhydria (p < 0.001). Twenty-nine patients with persistent ascites were observed. Six episodes of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis occurred after an average 12.8 wk. Occurence of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis correlated with ascitic fluid protein concentration (p = 0.01) and serum bilirubin (p = 0.04) but not with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (p = 0.39). Its association with acid-suppressive therapy was of borderline significance (hazard ratio = 7.0, p = 0.08).


Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in cirrhotic patients is associated with acid-suppressive therapy and hypochlorhydria, but not with spontaneous bacterial peritonitis. The potential role of acid-suppressive therapy in the pathogenesis of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis merits further studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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