The possible influence on functional outcomes of hydrogen production in the ileoanal pouch after restorative proctocolectomy was investigated by means of lactulose H2 breath tests. Eight of 15 patients had significant increases in breath hydrogen after 10 g lactulose. One patient declined to participate in further investigations, the remaining seven responders had no evidence of small bowel bacterial overgrowth after glucose H2 breath tests. The ability to produce hydrogen by anaerobic fermentation of lactulose in the pouch was unrelated to the age of the patients or of the pouch. Seven of eight responders had successive breath tests after ingestion of lactulose 20 g and wheat starch 100 g. Five of seven had significant increases after lactulose but none after wheat starch. The overall function of the pouch continence, spontaneity of defecation, and 24 hour stool frequency was significantly better in responders than in non-responders. The absence of H2 production of 100 g wheat starch may indicate either increased absorption or defective fermentation.
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