Efficacy of rifaximin in treating with small intestine bacterial overgrowth: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2021 Dec;15(12):1385-1399. doi: 10.1080/17474124.2021.2005579. Epub 2021 Nov 26.


Objectives: Over the past decades, rifaximin has been used to treat with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), however, the true efficacy remains unknown. This systematic review and meta-analysis was performed to assess the safety and efficacy of rifaximin in treating with patients with SIBO.

Methods: Embase, Pubmed, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and Web of Science were searched from inception to April, 2021 for published randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and observational studies with or without comparable arms.

Results: A total of 21 observational studies and 5 RCTs involving 874 patients were included. The overall eradication rate according to intention-to-treat analysis (ITT) was 59% (95% CI: 50 to 69%; I2 = 90.69%) and to per protocol analysis (PP) 63% (95% CI: 53 to 72%; I2 = 90.32%). For 5 RCTs included comparing the efficacy between rifaximin and placebo or active controls, there was no significant difference (n = 203, risk ratio = 1.14, 95%CI: 0.59 to 2.19, P = 0.15, I2 = 38%). Subgroup analysis and meta-regression indicated a dose-dependent eradication rate of rifaximin for SIBO.

Conclusion: Rifaximin is effective and safe in eradicating SIBO, with a dose-dependent efficacy and commonly associated with the improvement of the gastrointestinal symptoms and underlying diseases.

Keywords: Rifaximin; eradication; meta-analysis; small intestine bacterial overgrowth; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Breath Tests
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Small / microbiology*
  • Rifaximin / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Rifaximin