Correlation between the presence and intensity of symptoms and the results of hydrogen breath tests in the diagnosis of carbohydrate intolerance Correlación entre los síntomas digestivos y los resultados de una prueba de hidrógeno en aliento en el diagnóstico de intolerancia a carbohidratos uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Hydrogen breath tests (HBT) are used to confirm the diagnosis of carbohydrate intolerance or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).OBJECTIVE: Determine the existence of a correlation between the presence and intensity of symptoms experimented by the patient after the ingestion of a carbohydrate load and the test result.MATERIALS AND METHODS: This is an observational, retrospective and analytic study, in which all patients' files from year 2008 to 2014 containing a report of a HBT performed at Hospital San José TEC de Monterrey were revised. Using a visual analogue scale (VAS), the patient reported the intensity of gastrointestinal symptoms during the test. Descriptive statistics were obtained, and exclusively for lactose HBTs, Pearson's correlation coefficient (r) between maximum hydrogen concentration in breath and symptom intensity was calculated.RESULTS: A HBT was performed in 33 patients: 23 with lactose, 5 with fructose, and 5 with lactulose as substrate. Of these, 10, 2, and 5 tests were positive, respectively. For lactose HBTs, the symptom with most sensitivity was flatulence (80%), which also had the greatest likelihood ratio for a positive test (1.73). Diarrhea had the greatest specificity (84.6%). A tendency for positivity was observed when patients presented symptoms. A moderately positive correlation between hydrogen ppm and symptom intensity was found (r=0.427, p=0.023).CONCLUSIONS: A correlation between symptom intensity and test positivity was found in patients with lactose intolerance. The presence of flatulence after lactose loading may be indicative of a positive test.

Publication date

  • July 1, 2016