Small bowel bacterial overgrowth in systemic sclerosis: Detection using direct and indirect methods and treatment outcome

S. A. Kaye*, S. G. Lim, M. Taylor, S. Patel, S. Gillespie, C. M. Black

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


Twenty-four patients with proven systemic sclerosis and with symptoms suggestive of malabsorption (i.e. chronic diarrhoea and weight loss) were investigated for small bowel bacterial overgrowth. Of the patients selected, six were suffering from the diffuse form of the disease. Jejunal aspiration was performed in all patients, and in nine normal volunteers. A specially designed double-lumen sterile catheter was used or this purpose and was introduced via a gastroscope. Twenty of these patients underwent a glucose hydrogen breath test. Eight patients 33%) had significant bacterial counts: > 105 colony forming units per ml (cful/ml) of jejunal fluid. Less than 102cfu/ml were found in the ejunal fluid from the nine control subjects. Glucose hydrogen breath testing was positive in seven patients, all of whom had significant ejunal bacterial growth. Diarrhoea rather than weight loss was shown to be the symptom which correlated best with the presence of acterial Overgrowth. Ciprofloxacin was used in six patients whose diarrhoea1 symptoms ceased dramatically within 48 h of commencing the ntibiotic. Trimethoprim produced a partial response despite bacterial sensitivity. A disadvantage of the hydrogen breath test is that subsequent antibacterial therapy cannot be specific, as bacterial species, antibiotic sensitivity and resistance are unknown. Systemic sclerosis involving he small intestine in the past has been said to more prevalent in patients with diffuse disease, whereas this study showed a preponderance of patients with long-standing limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis and small bowel involvement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-269
Number of pages5
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1995


  • Antibiotics
  • Bacterial overgrowth
  • Jejunal catheter
  • Malabsorption
  • Small intestine
  • Systemic sclerosis


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