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  • Scott Adams
    Scott Adams

    Effectiveness of the Sorbitol H2 Breath Test in Detecting Histological Damage Among Relatives of Celiacs

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Scand J Gastroenterol. 2003 Jul;38(7):727-31.
    Effectiveness of the sorbitol H2 breath test in detecting histological damage among relatives of coeliacs.
    Tursi A, Brandimarte G, Giorgetti GM, Inchingolo celiac disease.
    Dept. of Emergency, L. Bonomo Hospital, Andria (BA), Italy.

    Celiac.com 08/07/2003 - An Italian study conducted by Dr. L. Bonomo and colleagues and published in the July 2003 edition of Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology concludes that A significant proportion of coeliacs may be missed if relatives are screened by serology only, while the efficacy of sorbitol H2-BT in screening relatives is confirmed. This study confirms that neither a breath test nor serology can replace intestinal biopsy, which remains the gold standard for the diagnosis of celiac disease, thus confirming the continued importance of performing biopsies for diagnosing celiac disease. The studys goal was to determine the diagnostic capabilities of serological tests (antigliadin (AGA), antiendomysium (EMA) and anti-tissue transglutaminase (anti-tTG)) and sorbitol H2 breath test (H2-BT) in the detection of celiac disease in first-degree relatives. The study screened 111 first-degree relatives of 37 celiac families using both test methods to determine candidates for small bowel biopsy. First-degree relatives with abnormal test results underwent a small bowel biopsy, as did those with negative serological and H2 breath test results who had clinical complaints or suspected that they may have celiac disease.

    The biopsy results were expressed using the Marsh classification system, and celiac disease was diagnosed in 49 of the 111 screened relatives of celiacs, or in 44.14%. A breakdown of the results is as follows: 5 showed Marsh IIIc, 8 Marsh IIIb, 16 Marsh IIIa, 13 Marsh II and 7 Marsh I lesions. 19 relatives showed the classical form of celiac disease, 20 showed the sub-clinical form, and 10 showed the silent form. The serological test results indicated an overall positivity of only 36.73%, with strong positive results only in those with severe intestinal damage and Marsh IIIb-c lesions. The sorbitol H2-BT breath test results showed an overall positivity of 83.67%, and showed strong positivity in patients with slight histological damage (Marsh I-IIIa).


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    What I didn't understand from your article was what ratio of people in the study were positive for celiac disease when biopsies were performed when compared to the those who tested positive using the Sorbitol H2 Breath Test.

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    Celiac.com's Founder and CEO, Scott was diagnosed with celiac disease  in 1994, and, due to the nearly total lack of information available at that time, was forced to become an expert on the disease in order to recover. Scott launched the site that later became Celiac.com in 1995 "To help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives."  In 1998 he founded The Gluten-Free Mall which he sold in 2014. He is co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.

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