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Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2012 Nov;24(11):983-e538. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2982.2012.01953.x. Epub 2012 Jul 5.

Prevalence of, and predictors of, bile acid malabsorption in outpatients with chronic diarrhea.

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Leeds Gastroenterology Institute, St. James's University Hospital, Leeds, UK.



Many physicians do not consider the diagnosis of bile acid malabsorption in patients with chronic diarrhea, or do not have access to testing. We examined yield of 23-seleno-25-homo-tauro-cholic acid (SeHCAT) scanning in chronic diarrhea patients, and attempted to identify predictors of a positive test.


Consecutive patients with chronic diarrhea undergoing SeHCAT scan over a 7-year period were identified retrospectively. Bile acid malabsorption was defined as present at a retention of <15%. Medical records were reviewed to obtain information regarding proposed risk factors. Gastrointestinal symptoms were recorded, and patients were classified as having diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D) if they reported abdominal pain or discomfort. Independent risk factors were assessed using multivariate logistic regression, and odds ratios (ORs) with 99% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated.


Of 373 patients, 190 (50.9%) had bile acid malabsorption. Previous cholecystectomy (OR 2.51; 99% CI 1.10-5.77), terminal ileal resection or right hemicolectomy for Crohn's disease (OR 12.4; 99% CI 2.42-63.8), and terminal ileal resection or right hemicolectomy for other reasons (OR 7.94; 99% CI 1.02-61.6) were associated with its presence. Seventy-seven patients had IBS-D, and 21 (27.3%) tested positive. There were 168 patients with no risk factors for a positive SeHCAT scan, other than chronic diarrhea, and 63 (37.5%) had bile acid malabsorption.


Bile acid malabsorption was present in 50% of patients undergoing SeHCAT scanning. Almost 40% of those without risk factors had evidence of bile acid malabsorption, and in those meeting criteria for IBS-D prevalence was almost 30%.

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