Decompensated cirrhotics have slower intestinal transit times as compared with compensated cirrhotics and healthy controls

Bani Chander Roland, Guadalupe Garcia-Tsao, Maria M. Ciarleglio, Yanhong Deng, Anish Sheth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND:: Altered small intestinal motility in cirrhotics may play a major role in the development of bacterial translocation (BT) by leading to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. BT has been implicated in the development of several complications including spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, esophageal variceal hemorrhage, and hepatorenal syndrome. Prior studies using antroduodenal manometry to evaluate intestinal motility have shown discrepancies regarding the relationship between dysmotility and the severity of cirrhosis. OBJECTIVES:: (1) To characterize the frequency of small bowel motility disturbances in cirrhotic patients using a wireless motility capsule (SmartPill); (2) To assess the relationship of intestinal dysmotility with liver disease severity and cirrhosis complications; and (3) To compare intestinal transit times and motility indices among cirrhotics and healthy controls. METHODS:: We conducted a prospective study of 20 patients with cirrhosis (10 compensated, 10 decompensated) who were recruited from Yale New Haven Hospital and Hepatology clinics (February 2011 to July 2011). All patients underwent and completed SmartPill studies. Intestinal transit times were calculated, analyzed, and compared among compensated versus decompensated cirrhotics versus historical, healthy controls. Intestinal transit delays/motility indices were correlated with disease severity and complications. RESULTS:: Decompensated cirrhotics had significantly longer small bowel transit times (SBTT) as compared with compensated cirrhotics (6.17 vs. 3.56 h, P=0.036). There was a significant correlation (r=0.77, P=0.0003) between SBTT and cirrhosis severity as assessed by Child-Pugh score. There were no statistical differences noted between the groups for gastric or colonic transit times, although there was a trend toward prolonged transit throughout the gut in decompensated. Cirrhotics with spontaneous bacterial peritonitis and ascites also had significantly longer SBTT as compared with those without. CONCLUSIONS:: This study demonstrates that decompensated cirrhotics have slower intestinal transit times as compared with compensated cirrhotics and healthy controls. Additional prospective studies are needed to further characterize dysmotility in cirrhotics and its relationship to complications related to BT. This would aid in the identification of patients at risk for developing severe complications and who may benefit from prophylactic prokinetic and/or antimicrobial therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)888-893
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of clinical gastroenterology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • cirrhosis
  • small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
  • small intestinal motility disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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