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The SeHCAT test was used to investigate possible bile acid malabsorption in 166 patients presenting to a district general hospital with chronic diarrhoea of uncertain cause. Eighty-four (51%) patients had impaired SeHCAT retention. These included 23 of 28 patients with a possible type I abnormality (terminal ileal resection or disease, previous pelvic radiotherapy), 20 of 74 with a possible type II abnormality (idiopathic diarrhoea), 32 of 45 with a possible type III abnormality (post-cholecystectomy, post-vagotomy), and 9 of 19 with diarrhoea associated with diabetes. Patients with severe bile acid malabsorption demonstrated a good response to cholestyramine whereas the response in patients with a mildly abnormal SeHCAT retention was variable. Bile acid malabsorption is an important cause of diarrhoea in patients presenting with unexplained chronic diarrhoea.

Original publication




Journal article


Postgrad Med J

Publication Date





272 - 276


Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Bile Acids and Salts, Cholecystectomy, Cholestyramine Resin, Crohn Disease, Diagnosis, Differential, Female, Humans, Malabsorption Syndromes, Male, Middle Aged, Postoperative Complications, Retrospective Studies, Taurocholic Acid, Vagotomy