Celiac.com 06/30/2005 – In order to determine whether celiac disease mucosal lesions may have a patchy distribution that would require more than one biopsy sample to make an accurate celiac disease diagnosis, Italian researchers closely examined the detailed biopsies taken from 112 consecutively diagnosed children. All of the children in the study had positive anti-endomysium (EMA) or anti-tissue transglutaminase (tTGA) antibodies, and each underwent an upper GI endoscopy in which 4-5 biopsies were taken from Treitz and/or distal duodenum, intermediate duodenum, proximal duodenum, and the duodenal bulb. All biopsies were then classified according to the Marsh criteria. The researchers diagnosed 110 or the 112 patients with celiac disease, and none of the biopsies taken from these children appeared normal. All those diagnosed were positive for HLA-DQ2 or DQ8 genetic markers.
The researchers conclude that: “Mucosal atrophy is present in 85% of patients with celiac disease and total villous atrophy is significantly more frequent in distal duodenum or proximal jejunum. Fifty percent of patients have identical villous atrophy throughout the duodenum and no duodenal areas are histologically normal. In genetically susceptible children with positive serology, a diagnosis of celiac disease can reliably be made even if biopsies are not taken from the distal duodenum or jejunum.”