1 Department of Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medicine, 525 E. 68th Street, M-532, New York, NY, 10065, USA.
2 Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medicine, 1305 York Avenue, 4th Floor, New York, NY, 10065, USA.
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is defined by increased density and/or abnormal composition of microbiota in the small bowel. SIBO is often encountered in patients with cirrhosis as a result of impaired intestinal motility and delayed transit time, both of which are exacerbated by more severe liver disease. Additional risk factors for SIBO commonly encountered in cirrhotic patients include coexisting diabetes, autonomic neuropathy, and/or alcoholic use. Diagnosis of SIBO is performed by breath testing or jejunal aspiration, the gold standard. In cirrhotic patients, the presence of SIBO can lead to profound clinical consequences. Increased intestinal permeability in these patients predisposes to bacterial translocation into the systemic circulation. As a result, SIBO is implicated as a significant risk factor in the pathogenesis of both spontaneous bacterial peritonitis and hepatic encephalopathy in cirrhotics. Antibiotics, especially rifaximin, are the best studied and most effective treatment options for SIBO. However, prokinetics, probiotics, nonselective beta-blockers, and treatment of underlying liver-related pathophysiology with transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt placement or liver transplantation are also being investigated. This review will discuss the risk factors, diagnosis, manifestations in cirrhosis, and treatment options of SIBO.