small bowel aspiration and culture

Last reviewed 01/2018

The gold standard investigation in suspected small bowel bacterial overgrowth is small bowel aspiration. The test is invasive and has a significant false negative rate.

Small bowel aspiration is conveniently performed when a biopsy is being performed to exclude other causes of malabsorption; using a pre-sterilised, sheathed cannula, the 2 ml samples must be transported rapidly to the laboratory for aerobic and anaerobic culture.