Rifaximin versus chlortetracycline in the short-term treatment of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth

M. Di Stefano, S. Malservisi, G. Veneto, A. Ferrieri, G. R. Corazza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine is a condition characterized by nutrient malabsorption due to an excessive number of bacteria in the lumen of the small intestine. Current treatment is based on empirical courses of broad spectrum antibiotics; few controlled data, with respect to the duration and choice of antibiotic drug, exist at present. The recent availability of rifaximin, a non-absorbable rifamycin derivative, highly effective against anaerobic bacteria, prompted us to carry out a randomized, double-blind controlled trial in order to compare its efficacy and tolerability to those of tetracycline, currently considered the first-choice drug. Methods: In 21 patients affected by small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, fasting, peak and total H2 excretion after ingestion of 50 g glucose and severity of symptoms were evaluated before and after a 7-day course of rifaximin, 1200 mg/day (400 mg t.d.s.), or chlortetracycline, 1 g/day (333 mg t.d.s.), Results: Fasting, peak and total H2 excretion decreased significantly in the group of patients treated with rifaximin whereas chlortetracycline did not modify these parameters. The H2 breath test normalized in 70% of patients after rifaximin and in 27% of patients after chlortetracycline. The improvement in symptoms was significantly higher in patients treated with rifaximin. Conclusions: Rifaximin is a promising, easily-handled and safe drug for the short-term treatment of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-556
Number of pages6
JournalAlimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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