Treatment of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in systemic sclerosis: a systematic review

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2018 Oct 1;57(10):1802-1811. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/key175.


Objectives: Almost all patients with SSc have gastrointestinal manifestations. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) occurs in 30-60% of patients and leads to malnutrition and impaired quality of life. Recent systematic reviews have reported efficacy of treatments for SIBO, but these are not specific to patients with SSc. We conducted a systematic review of the evidence for all possible SIBO treatments in the SSc population.

Methods: The following databases were searched: MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library, from database inception to 1 January 2017. All evidence for all possible SIBO treatments including antibiotics, prokinetics, probiotics and alternative treatments was included. Treatment outcomes included symptomatic relief or demonstrated SIBO eradication.

Results: Of 5295 articles, five non-randomized studies were reviewed with a total of 78 SSc patients with SIBO. One trial assessed octreotide while the remaining four trials investigated the effectiveness of ciprofloxacin, rifaximin, norfloxacin and metronidazole, and the combination of amoxicillin, ciprofloxacin and metronidazole. Studies were generally of low quality and most were un-controlled.

Conclusion: Data indicate that, for some SSc patients, antibiotics can eradicate SIBO. There is a paucity of data reporting the effectiveness of either prokinetics or probiotics in SSc.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Blind Loop Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Blind Loop Syndrome / microbiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Small / microbiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / microbiology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents