Aliment Pharmacol Ther 19(11):1199-1210, 2004.

Celiac.com 06/08/2004 - Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have determined that everyone with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) should also be screened for celiac disease. The researchers used decision analysis to estimate the number of celiac disease cases detected, quality-adjusted life-years gained, and costs resulting from screening suspected IBS patients for tissue transglutaminase antibody and antibody panel. Positive tests were followed up with an endoscopic biopsy. A gluten-free diet was initiated to improve the quality of life in those with celiac disease.

The results of this study indicate that 3% of the 1,000 patients with suspected IBS have celiac disease. Based on these results the researchers analyzed the costs of several celiac disease screening methods used a decision analysis formula to determine whether or not the screening is cost effective. The researchers conclude that celiac disease screening in patients with suspected irritable bowel syndrome is likely to be cost-effective even at a relatively low celiac disease prevalence.

Perhaps the researchers should have taken their analysis one step further and concluded that it would make good economic sense to screen the entire population of the USA (as well as that of other countries) for celiac disease, rather than just those with IBS, given the fact that it affects approximately 1% of the population--which is the only conclusion that I could reach after my review of their good work. -Scott Adams

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