Assessment of intestinal malabsorption

Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2016 Apr;30(2):225-35. doi: 10.1016/j.bpg.2016.03.003. Epub 2016 Mar 8.


Significant efforts have been made in the last decade to either standardize the available tests for intestinal malabsorption or to develop new, more simple and reliable techniques. The quest is still on and, unfortunately, clinical practice has not dramatically changed. The investigation of intestinal malabsorption is directed by the patient's history and baseline tests. Endoscopy and small bowel biopsies play a major role although non-invasive tests are favored and often performed early on the diagnostic algorithm, especially in paediatric and fragile elderly patients. The current clinically available methods and research tools are summarized in this review article.

Keywords: Carbohydrate malabsorption; Fat malabsorption; Intestinal malabsorption; Plasma citrulline level; Protein losing enteropathy; Small bowel bacterial overgrowth; Small bowel malabsorption.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blind Loop Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Blind Loop Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism, Inborn Errors / diagnosis
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism, Inborn Errors / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption / physiology*
  • Lipid Metabolism Disorders / diagnosis
  • Lipid Metabolism Disorders / physiopathology
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / diagnosis*
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Protein-Losing Enteropathies / diagnosis
  • Protein-Losing Enteropathies / physiopathology
  • Short Bowel Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Short Bowel Syndrome / physiopathology