Abnormalities of Gi Transit in Bloated Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Effect of Bran on Transit and Symptoms

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OBJECTIVES:Bloating is an important but poorly understood symptom in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) that is often aggravated by bran. The aim of our study was to determine whether IBS patients with bloating responded to bran differently from healthy controls.METHODS:A total of 12 patients with IBS (according to Rome I criteria), all with moderate to severe bloating, and 12 healthy controls participated in a two way, double blind, randomized, cross-over trial of bran versus placebo (crushed biscuits) 15 g b.i.d. An average daily pain index and bloating score were derived from daily symptom diaries. On day 14, gastric emptying, small bowel transit, percent remaining in ascending colon, and geometric center of a meal marker at 24 h were calculated from scintigraphic images obtained after ingesting a Tc99m-labeled rice pudding meal with 15 g of either placebo or coarse bran.RESULTS:Results are given as median (range). Bran significantly increased the pain index and bloating (p < 0.02) in IBS patients but not controls. The most striking finding was that the small bowel transit time of the meal without bran was markedly faster in IBS patients than in controls, being 203 min (range 109–313) versus 367 min (219–543), p < 0.001. Although in controls bran accelerated small bowel transit time to 262 min (180–380), p = 0.03, and significantly reduced % remaining in the ascending colon from 22% (0–46) to 3% (0–25), p = 0.03, this was not seen in the IBS patients. Bran accelerated whole gut transit as assessed by geometric center at 24 h in both IBS patients and controls.CONCLUSIONS:Bran accelerates small bowel transit and ascending colon clearance without causing symptoms in controls. Small bowel transit is rapid in IBS patients with bloating and, unlike in healthy control subjects, cannot be further accelerated by bran, which nevertheless aggravates symptoms of pain and bloating. We speculate that bran-induced bloating may originate in the colon rather than the small bowel.

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