This study determined the incidence and concentration of methane-producing bacteria in tap water enema samples of 130 individuals taken before sigmoidoscopy. The number of subjects classified in five major colonic groups were as follows: normal colon 36, diverticulosis 57, inflammatory bowel disease 11, colon polyps 34, and colon cancer 11. Some patients were placed in more than one category. Ninety four of the subjects or 72% had methanogenic bacteria ranging in concentration from 6 to about 3 X 10(10)/g dry weight of faeces. The predominant methanogen in all groups was Methanobrevibacter smithii. Chi-square analysis showed that the incidence of methanogens in concentrations of 10(7)/g dry weight of faeces or greater in patients with diverticulosis (58%) was significantly greater than in normal patients (25%). High methanogen concentrations are associated with excretion of methane in the breath.
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