The prevalence of intestinal dysbiosis in patients referred for antireflux surgery

Surg Endosc. 2021 Dec;35(12):7112-7119. doi: 10.1007/s00464-020-08229-5. Epub 2021 Jan 21.


Background: Prior to antireflux surgery, most patients with symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) have been taking long-term proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). PPIs have been shown to cause changes to the intestinal microbiota, such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), which is characterised by symptoms of gas bloating. Patients undergoing antireflux surgery are not routinely screened for SIBO, yet many patients experience gas-related symptoms postoperatively.

Methods: Data from consecutive patients (n = 104) referred to a speciality reflux centre were retrospectively assessed. Patients underwent a routine diagnostic workup for GERD including history, endoscopy, oesophageal manometry and 24-h pH-impedance monitoring off PPIs. Intestinal dysbiosis was determined by hydrogen and methane breath testing with a hydrogen-positive result indicative of SIBO and a methane-positive result indicative of intestinal methanogen overgrowth (IMO).

Results: 60.6% of patients had intestinal dysbiosis (39.4% had SIBO and 35.6% had IMO). Patients with dysbiosis were more likely to report bloating (74.6% vs 48.8%; P = 0.01) and belching (60.3% vs 34.1%; P = 0.01). The oesophageal acid exposure time and number of reflux episodes were similar between dysbiosis and non-dysbiosis groups, but patients with dysbiosis were more likely to have a positive reflux-symptom association (76.2% vs 31.7%; P < 0.001), especially for regurgitation in those with SIBO (P = 0.01). Hydrogen gas production was significantly greater in patients with a positive reflux-symptom association for regurgitation (228.8 ppm vs 129.1 ppm, P = 0.004) and belching (mean AUC 214.8 ppm vs 135.9 ppm, P = 0.02).

Conclusions: The prevalence of intestinal dysbiosis is high in patients with GERD, and these patients are more likely to report gas-related symptoms prior to antireflux surgery. Independently, SIBO may be a contributory factor to refractory reflux symptoms and gas bloating in antireflux surgery candidates.

Keywords: Bloating; Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD); Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs); Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Dysbiosis* / epidemiology
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Proton Pump Inhibitors