Symptoms compatible with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may co-exist in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), presenting a clinical dilemma for physicians. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to examine this issue.
MEDLINE, EMBASE, and EMBASE Classic were searched (through February 2012) to identify cross-sectional surveys or case-control studies reporting the prevalence of symptoms meeting diagnostic criteria for IBS in ≥50 unselected adult IBD patients. The number of individuals with symptoms meeting criteria for IBS was extracted for each study, and pooled prevalence and odds ratios (ORs), with 95% confidence intervals (CIs), were calculated.
The search identified 3,045 articles. Thirteen studies, containing 1,703 patients, were eligible. The pooled prevalence for IBS in all IBD patients was 39% (95% CI 30–48%), with an OR compared with controls of 4.89 (95% CI 3.43–6.98). In IBD patients in remission, the OR was 4.39 (95% CI 2.24–8.61). For IBD patients with active disease, the pooled prevalence of IBS was 44%, compared with 35% in those felt to be in remission (OR 3.89; 95% CI 2.71–5.59). The prevalence in patients with Crohn's disease (CD) was higher than in those with ulcerative colitis (UC; 46 vs. 36%, OR 1.62; 95% CI 1.21–2.18).
Symptoms compatible with IBS were significantly higher in patients with IBD compared with non-IBD controls, even among those felt to be in remission. IBS-type symptoms were also significantly more common in CD than in UC patients, and in those with active disease. Management strategies for IBD patients with symptoms suggestive of IBS are required.