Canadian Association of Gastroenterology Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

J Can Assoc Gastroenterol. 2019 Apr;2(1):6-29. doi: 10.1093/jcag/gwy071. Epub 2019 Jan 17.


Background & aims: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, affecting about 10% of the general population globally. The aim of this consensus was to develop guidelines for the management of IBS.

Methods: A systematic literature search identified studies on the management of IBS. The quality of evidence and strength of recommendations were rated according to the Grading of Recommendation Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach. Statements were developed through an iterative online platform and then finalized and voted on by a multidisciplinary group of clinicians and a patient.

Results: Consensus was reached on 28 of 31 statements. Irritable bowel syndrome is diagnosed based on symptoms; serological testing is suggested to exclude celiac disease, but routine testing for C-reactive protein (CRP), fecal calprotectin or food allergies is not recommended. A trial of a low fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, polyols (FODMAP) diet is suggested, while a gluten-free diet is not. Psyllium, but not wheat bran, supplementation may help reduce symptoms. Alternative therapies such as peppermint oil and probiotics are suggested, while herbal therapies and acupuncture are not. Cognitive behavioural therapy and hypnotherapy are suggested psychological therapies. Among the suggested or recommended pharmacological therapies are antispasmodics, certain antidepressants, eluxadoline, lubiprostone, and linaclotide. Loperamide, cholestyramine and osmotic laxatives are not recommended for overall IBS symptoms. The nature of the IBS symptoms (diarrhea-predominant or constipation-predominant) should be considered in the choice of pharmacological treatments.

Conclusions: Patients with IBS may benefit from a multipronged, individualized approach to treatment, including dietary modifications, psychological and pharmacological therapies.

Keywords: Clinical practice guidelines; Constipation; Diarrhea; Irritable bowel syndrome.