Background: Breath tests represent a valid and non-invasive diagnostic tool in many gastroenterological conditions. The rationale of hydrogen-breath tests is based on the concept that part of the gas produced by colonic bacterial fermentation diffuses into the blood and is excreted by breath, where it can be quantified easily. There are many differences in the methodology, and the tests are increasingly popular.
Aim: The Rome Consensus Conference was convened to offer recommendations for clinical practice about the indications and methods of H2-breath testing in gastrointestinal diseases.
Methods: Experts were selected on the basis of a proven knowledge/expertise in H2-breath testing and divided into Working Groups (methodology; sugar malabsorption; small intestine bacterial overgrowth; oro-coecal transit time and other gas-related syndromes). They performed a systematic review of the literature, and then formulated statements on the basis of the scientific evidence, which were debated and voted by a multidisciplinary Jury. Recommendations were then modified on the basis of the decisions of the Jury by the members of the Expert Group.
Results and conclusions: The final statements, graded according to the level of evidence and strength of recommendation, are presented in this document; they identify the indications for the use of H2-breath testing in the clinical practice and methods to be used for performing the tests.