Systematic review and meta-analysis: Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in chronic pancreatitis

United European Gastroenterol J. 2016 Oct;4(5):697-705. doi: 10.1177/2050640616630117. Epub 2016 Feb 3.


Background: Evidence on small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) in patients with chronic pancreatitis (CP) is conflicting.

Aim: The purpose of this study was to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis on the prevalence of SIBO in CP and to examine the relationship of SIBO with symptoms and nutritional status.

Methods: Case-control and cross-sectional studies investigating SIBO in CP patients were analysed. The prevalence of positive tests was pooled across studies, and the rate of positivity between CP cases and controls was calculated.

Results: In nine studies containing 336 CP patients, the pooled prevalence of SIBO was 36% (95% confidence interval (CI) 17-60%) with considerable heterogeneity (I2 = 91%). A sensitivity analysis excluding studies employing lactulose breath test gave a pooled prevalence of 21.7% (95% CI 12.7-34.5%) with lower heterogeneity (I2 = 56%). The odds ratio for a positive test in CP vs controls was 4.1 (95% CI 1.6-10.4) (I2 = 59.7%). The relationship between symptoms and SIBO in CP patients varied across studies, and the treatment of SIBO was associated with clinical improvement.

Conclusions: One-third of CP patients have SIBO, with a significantly increased risk over controls, although results are heterogeneous, and studies carry several limitations. The impact of SIBO and its treatment in CP patients deserve further investigation.

Keywords: Chronic pancreatitis; nutrition; pancreatic exocrine insufficiency; small intestinal bacterial overgrowth; symptoms.