Duodenal bile salt concentrations were measured throughout one day in six patients with primary biliary cirrhosis while they were eating a normal ward diet. Five of them had lost weight; none had ascites. Each patient had a radiologically normal small bowel and a normal jejunal biopsy. No clear relationship between high faecal fat excretion and abnormally low duodenal bile salt concentration was found. Xylose absorption was abnormal in five patients. If weight loss in primary biliary cirrhosis is due to malabsorption, factors other than a reduced small intestinal bile salt concentration must be important.
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