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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2015 Jul;42(1):3-11. doi: 10.1111/apt.13227. Epub 2015 Apr 27.

Systematic review with meta-analysis: the prevalence of bile acid malabsorption in the irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhoea.

Author information

Neurogastroenterology Group, Blizard Institute of Cell & Molecular Science, Wingate Institute of Neurogastroenterology, Barts & the London School of Medicine & Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK.
Blackpool Victoria Hospital, Blackpool, UK.
Leeds Gastroenterology Institute, St. James's University Hospital, Leeds, UK.
Leeds Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences, Leeds University, Leeds, UK.
Department of Gastroenterology, University Hospitals of the North Midlands, Stoke on Trent, UK.



Irritable bowel syndrome is a widespread disorder with a marked socioeconomic burden. Previous studies support the proposal that a subset of patients with features compatible with diarrhoea-predominant IBS (IBS-D) have bile acid malabsorption (BAM).


To perform a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the prevalence of BAM in patients meeting the accepted criteria for IBS-D.


MEDLINE and EMBASE were searched up to March 2015. Studies recruiting adults with IBS-D, defined by the Manning, Kruis, Rome I, II or III criteria and which used 23-seleno-25-homotaurocholic acid (SeHCAT) testing for the assessment of BAM were included. BAM was defined as 7 day SeHCAT retention of <10%. We calculated the rate of BAM and 95% confidence intervals (CI) using a random effects model. The methodological quality of included studies was evaluated using the Quality Assessment for Diagnostic Accuracy Studies (QUADAS-2).


The search strategy identified six relevant studies comprising 908 individuals. The rate of BAM ranged from 16.9% to 35.3%. The pooled rate was 28.1% (95% CI: 22.6-34%). There was significant heterogeneity in effect sizes (Q-test χ(2)  = 17.9, P < 0.004; I(2)  = 72.1%). The type of diagnostic criteria used or study country did not significantly modify the effect.


These data provide evidence that in excess of one quarter of patients meeting accepted criteria for IBS-D have bile acid malabsorption. This distinction has implications for the interpretation of previous studies, as well as contemporaneous clinical practice and future guideline development.

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