Celiac.com 08/19/2013 - Data from blood studies suggest that about 1% or so of North Americans have celiac disease. However, there is no good screening data based on small intestinal biopsy performed during routine endoscopic evaluations.

Photo: CC--Ken_TurnerResearcher H.J Freeman recently set out to determine rates of detection of adult celiac disease via duodenal screening biopsies over a thirty year period.

For his study, he looked at patients referred between January 1982 and December 2011 for evaluation of gastrointestinal symptoms that required elective investigative upper endoscopic assessment, and who underwent duodenal biopsies to determine whether changes of adult celiac disease were present.

Freeman looked at a total of 9665 patients, including 4008 (41.5%) males and 5657 (68.5%) females, who underwent elective endoscopies and duodenal biopsies.

Overall, 234 patients (2.4%) exhibited changes of celiac disease. That included 73 males (1.8%) and 161 females (2.8%).

During the first 20 years, the number of biopsy-positive patients in five-year intervals progressively decreased, while, during the next 10 years, the number progressively increased.

From this study, the team concludes that celiac disease is far more common in specialist practice than has been suggested in the evaluation of healthy populations using serological screening studies.

Endoscopic duodenal biopsy is an important way to spot underlying celiac disease and should be routinely considered in all patients undergoing an elective endoscopic evaluation.

They also note that the appearance of biopsy-defined celiac disease may be influenced by non-inherited factors, possibly environmental, which alter its detection over time.

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