Millions of colonoscopies are performed each year in the United States and Europe. In the days following colonoscopy, up to one fifth of patients experience abdominal pain. The investigators conducting this study wondered if these pain symptoms are related to alterations in gut microbiota that occur in the process of bowel preparation.
In this study, patients were randomized to consume either probiotic or placebo capsules after colonoscopy, and were asked to record their symptoms in the subsequent days. The strains Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 were used in the capsules.
Patients consuming the probiotics had 1.99 pain days after colonoscopy, compared with 2.78 in the control group. No significant differences were observed in terms of bloating or return to normal bowel habits. In the subgroup of patients with pre-existing abdominal pain, probiotics reduced the number of pain days from 4.08 to 2.16.
This study shows the potential of two probiotic strains to reduce abdominal pain after colonoscopy, perhaps by changing the gut microbiota. It did not address the mechanisms by which this may occur.
Paul Enck Prof. Dr. Paul Enck, Director of Research, Dept. of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Tübingen, Germany.
His main interests are gut functions in health and disease, including functional and inflammatory bowel disorders, the role of the gut microbiota, regulation of eating and food intake and its disorders, of nausea, vomiting and motion sickness, and the psychophysiology and neurobiology of the placebo response, with specific emphasis on age and gender contributions.
He has published more than 170 original data paper in scientific, peer-reviewed journals, and more than 250 book chapters and review articles. He is board member/treasurer of the European Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility and of the German Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, and has served as reviewer for many international journals and grant agencies.