Diagnosis of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth: The challenges persist!
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth was originally defined in the context of an overt malabsorption syndrome and diagnostic tests were developed and validated accordingly. More recently, the concept of intestinal contamination with excessive numbers of bacteria, especially those of colonic type, has been extended beyond the bounds of frank maldigestion and malabsorption to explain symptomatology in disorders as diverse as irritable bowel syndrome, celiac sprue and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Owing to a lack of consensus with regard to the optimal diagnostic criteria (the 'gold standard') for the diagnosis of bacterial overgrowth, the status of these new concepts is unclear. This review sets out to critically appraise the various diagnostic approaches that have been taken and are currently employed to diagnose small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.