Steatorrhea and weight loss in a 72-year-old man: Primary biliary cirrhosis? Celiac disease? Bacterial overgrowth? What else?

John K. Dibaise, Frederick F. Paustian

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4 Scopus citations


Unintentional weight loss is an ominous sign, particularly when it occurs in the elderly; concern for malignancy is especially worrisome. In this report, we describe a 72-yr-old man who presented with weight loss and was found to have massive steatorrhea. An extensive evaluation revealed evidence of primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), celiac disease, and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. No malignancy was identified. The weight loss was attributed to severe steatorrhea due, in part, to intraluminal bile salt deficiency, small bowel mucosal disease, and bacterial overgrowth. Several points are discussed regarding gastrointestinal function in elderly patients with chronic liver disease secondary to PBC. The rare association between PBC and celiac disease in adults is also discussed. Finally, we suggest that bacterial overgrowth plays a significant role in the development of steatorrhea in some persons with PBC and that an assessment for bacterial overgrowth should be performed on persons with steatorrhea and PBC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2226-2230
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 1998


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology

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