Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate among others.
He is a member of both the National Writers Union, the International Federation of Journalists, and covers San Francisco Health News for Examiner.com.
Reliable diagnosis presently demands the identification of tell-tale lesions in the mucosa of the small bowel. Accomplishing such identification requires an endoscopy of the upper gastrointestinal tract, and multiple duodenal biopsies.
A team of Italian researchers evaluated the effectiveness of Video Capsule Enteroscopy against the standard endoscopy of the upper GI with biopsies of the second portion of the duodenum in patients suspected of having celiac disease. The research team included Emanuele Rondonotti, M.D.; Cristiano Spada, M.D.; David Cave, M.D.; Marco Pennazio, M.D.; Maria E. Riccioni, M.D.; Italo De Vitis, M.D.; David Schneider, M.D.; Tatiana Sprujevnik, M.D.; Federica Villa, M.D.; Jennifer Langelier, M.D.; Arrigo Arrigoni, M.D.; Guido Costamagna, M.D.; Roberto de Franchis, M.D.
The research team tested a total of 43 patients. In 41 patients, VCE reached the ileocecal valve during the reading time. 32 patients were found to exhibit diagnostic histology. Of those, 28 were diagnosed with celiac disease using capsule enteroscopy, for a total sensitivity of 87.5%.
Overall, for diagnosing celiac disease, VCE was shown to be 90.9% specific, 96.5% predictive, 71.4% negative predictive, with positive and negative likelihood ratios of 9.6% and 0.14% respectively. Four patients showed normal VCE findings, but were still diagnosed with celiac disease. Of these patients, three had Marsh grade III lesions, and one had Marsh grade I lesions.
The ability of VCE to offer high-quality images of small bowel mucosa including high-resolution of the individual villi led the team to conclude the VCE may offer an effective alternative to duodenal biopsy among some patients.
As VCE is also far less invasive than the endoscopy/biopsy approach, it may also generate greater patient acceptance. Also, unlike conventional endoscopy/biopsy, VCE offers exploration of the entire small intestine, and may lead to the discovery of damaged villi beyond those areas accessible via endoscopy.
Because of the small number of the test subjects, the results, though encouraging, invite a larger and more comprehensive study before VCE becomes an acceptable alternative to conventional endoscopy/biopsy method for diagnosing celiac disease.
American Journal of Gastroenterology 2007; 102(8): 1624-1631