Scand J Gastroenterol. 2012 Jan 10. [Epub ahead of print]
Small intestinal malabsorption in chronic alcoholism: a retrospective study of alcoholic patients by the (14)C-d-xylose breath test.
B Hope H, Skar V, Sandstad O, Husebye E, Medhus AW.
Medical Department, Lovisenberg Diakonale Hospital , Oslo , Norway.
Abstract Objective. The (14)C-d-xylose breath test was used at Ullevål University Hospital in the period from 1986-1995 for malabsorption testing. The objective of this retrospective study was to reveal whether patients with chronic alcoholism may have intestinal malabsorption. Materials and methods. The consecutive (14)C-d-xylose breath test database was reviewed and patients with the diagnosis of chronic alcoholism were identified. (14)C-d-xylose breath test results of the alcoholic patients were compared with the results of untreated coeliac patients and patient and healthy controls. In the (14)C-d-xylose breath test, (14)C-d-xylose was dissolved in water and given orally after overnight fast. Breath samples were taken at 30-min intervals for 210 min, and (14)CO(2) : (12)CO(2) ratios were calculated for each time point, presenting a time curve for (14)C-d-xylose absorption. Urine was collected after 210 min and the fraction of the total d-xylose passed was calculated (U%). (14)CO(2) in breath and (14)C-d-xylose in urine were analyzed using liquid scintillation. Results. Both breath and urine analysis revealed a pattern of malabsorption in alcoholics comparable with untreated coeliac patients, with significantly reduced absorption of d-xylose compared with patient and healthy controls. Conclusion. Alcoholic patients have a significantly reduced (14)C-d-xylose absorption, comparable with untreated coeliac patients. This indicates a reduced intestinal function in chronic alcoholism.