Bile Acid Malabsorption in Patients with Neuroendocrine Tumors

Lehar Khanna, Thorvardur R. Halfdanarson, Mohamad B. Sonbol, Rachel Eiring, Teresa Prond, Michael Camilleri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Chronic diarrhea in patients with neuroendocrine tumors (NET) may be caused by bioactive products of NET, bile acid malabsorption (BAM), ileal resection (IR) or steatorrhea. Aim: To quantitate BA and fat malabsorption in NET with diarrhea. Methods: Part of evaluation in medical oncology clinical practice, 67 patients [42F, 25 M; median age 64.0 y (17.0 IQR)] with well-differentiated NET and diarrhea underwent clinically indicated measurements of 48-h fecal BA [(FBA), fecal weight (normal < 400 g/48 h), fecal fat (normal < 7 g/day) in n = 52] and fasting serum 7αC4 (marker of hepatic BA synthesis, n = 30) between 01/2018 and 11/2020. IR had been performed in 45 patients. BAM diagnosis was based on FBA criteria: elevated total FBA (> 2337 µmol/48 h) or > 10% primary FBA or combination > 4% primary FBA plus > 1000 µmol total FBA/48 h. We also measured fecal elastase (for pancreatic insufficiency) in 13 patients. Results: BAM was present in 48/52 (92%) patients with NET. There were significant correlations between total FBA and 48-h fecal weight (Rs = 0.645, P < 0.001). Mean length of IR was 47 cm; in patients with IR < 25 cm, total FBA was elevated in 85% and primary FBA > 10% in 69%. In 22 patients with no IR, 13/15 tested (87%) had BAM. Among 6 patients with pancreatic NET and no IR, 80% had BAM. Fecal fat was ≥ 15 g/day in 18/42 (43%). In 4/17 (24%) with IR < 25 cm and 8/19 (42%) patients with IR > 25 cm fecal fat was 44.0 (40.5) and 38.0 (38.0)g/day, respectively. Conclusion: A majority of patients with NET and diarrhea had BAM, even with < 25 cm or no IR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2517-2525
Number of pages9
JournalDigestive diseases and sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Pancreas
  • Primary
  • Somatostatin
  • Steatorrhea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Gastroenterology


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