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    How Accurate are Celiac Disease Blood Antibody Tests?

    Scott Adams
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    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      Just how reliable are blood antibody tests for screening celiac disease?


    Celiac disease blood tests are very accurate. Image: CC BY 2.0--tuckerives
    Caption: Celiac disease blood tests are very accurate. Image: CC BY 2.0--tuckerives

    Celiac.com 05/01/2020 - If you have celiac disease symptoms, for example chronic diarrhea, anemia, bloating, abdominal pain, anemia, etc, your doctor may order a blood test for celiac disease. Note that you must be eating gluten daily for at least 4-6 weeks to be accurately tested celiac disease, otherwise you may end up with false negative results.

    For a celiac disease antibody test, a clinician collects a small amount of the patient's blood. The sample is then sent to a lab, where the blood cells are then removed, and the test is conducted.

    Celiac Disease Blood Antibody Screening is ~98% Accurate When Done Using This Protocol 



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    A celiac disease blood panel includes several tests to determine whether someone has celiac disease. These tests are very specific because certain antibodies only appear in those with gluten sensitivity, celiac disease and/or dermatitis herpetiformis. 

    Testing begins with a test called Immunoglobulin A (IgA). If the results are normal, then a Tissue transglutaminase, antibody, IgA test is given. A weak positive should lead to the following tests:

    1. Endomysial antibodies (IgA) and;
    2. Gliadin (deamidated) antibody, IgA.

    If the initial Immunoglobulin A (IgA) test is low, then these two tests should be done:

    1. Tissue transglutaminase antibodies, IgA and IgG profle.
    2. Gliadin (deamidated) antibodies evaluation, IgG and IgA.

    If the initial Immunoglobulin A (IgA) test is deficient then these two tests should be done:

    1. Tissue transglutaminase (tTG) antibody, IgG.
    2. Gliadin (deamidated) antibody, IgG.

    It sounds complicated, but it's pretty standard procedure now, and when blood screening is done this way the results for celiac disease are ~98% accurate.

    Children Should Now be Diagnosed Using Only Blood Tests and No Biopsy

    In most cases, it is no longer necessary to use biopsy to diagnose celiac disease in children

    Biopsy Still Standard in Adult Celiac Diagnosis

    After positive blood tests some doctors still require a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. However, this is changing, as new techniques allow doctors to accurately detect celiac disease in adults without a biopsy.

    Remember, nearly all tests and screening for celiac disease require the patient to be eating a gluten-containing diet before testing, usually for at least 4-6 weeks before testing. Be sure to check with your doctor for the latest protocol.

    Blood Tests for Follow Up Care

    Blood tests may also be useful in follow up care in those with celiac disease to confirm that their diet is indeed free of gluten. Also, because of the lack of standardization, keep in mind that blood test results may not be directly comparable from one lab to the next.

    More Celiac Disease Testing Resources

    Blood Test Questions on the Celiac Disease and Gluten-Free Forum

    Edited by Scott Adams

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    This article was helpful - to a point. My 6 year old daughter has had tummy issues her whole life. To make a short story we had her blood tested & her antibody results were so high-off the chart- that her pediatrician said a biopsy wasn't necessary. She has celiac...period.

    My husband has had the same symptoms nearly his whole life (that's why we ignored our daughter's for so long). He got his blood tested. His antibodies were also off the charts - and again we were told by his doctor that a biopsy isn't necessary. "he has Celiac".

    We were told by 2 different doctors that a biopsy wasn't necessary. But all the research I've read said that the blood tests weren't 100% accurate.

     

    Both my husband & daughter have been gluten free for 2 months now. My husband's digestive issues have all but disappeared. My daughter however, still has very loose stools, but she's only going once a day instead of several times a day. I"m torn between giving her system a little more time, or requesting that biopsy after all.

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    Great website for someone new to celiac disease. I just got my blood test results and think it says I do not have celiac Even though I still think I do and will begin a gluten-free diet. Results were (ttg)ab,iga <3; iga,serum 141. The thing that is throwing me is the iga serum.

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    False negatives and false positives don't bode well for someone with tendencies toward hypochondria. When I do the gluten elimination diet strictly I feel better but it could be a placebo effect. That's why the blood tests are appealing to me; so I can take my double-guessing self out of the loop, but if they aren't accurate enough to provide greater certainty that the elimination diet then what's the point? Well, anyway this article answered several questions for me including the need to go back on gluten prior to the test and your insightful comments provided a ballpark figure for how long to go back on before testing.

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    Does anyone else get rhinitis (stuffy runny nose and sneezing) during their reactions or is it strictly gastro-intestinal for you?

    I have been having terrible gastrointestinal problems. Had an ultrasound and blood work. Nothing turned up. Since, someone mention perhaps gluten is the problem. I cut it out for 3 days, and the tummy troubles are gone. I have had rhinitis all my life, post nasal drip all night long, been on allergy pills of every type. I am hoping with a little more time on the gluten free diet, this will be alleviated. Keep me posted on your end. PS - going today for the blood work for the antibody to gluten. I am hoping 3 days off of gluten will be ok for an accurate reading. Although, prior to my gluten free diet, I could barely eat anything...that lasted more than a month!

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    This article helps a lot. I have gastrointestinal problems, dermatitis rashes that appear on my foot every 3-4 ish months, and geographic tongue. I'm more at risk for celiac b/c I also have Hashimoto's thyroiditis, but the one antibody test(IA-2) came back negative. I'm thinking my autoimmune disease might be affecting the test results, and am going gluten free to be sure.

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    This article helps a lot. I have gastrointestinal problems, dermatitis rashes that appear on my foot every 3-4 ish months, and geographic tongue. I'm more at risk for celiac b/c I also have Hashimoto's thyroiditis, but the one antibody test(IA-2) came back negative. I'm thinking my autoimmune disease might be affecting the test results, and am going gluten free to be sure.

    A biopsy of your rash may be all you need. They say it is 100% sure indicator for celiac. I'd ask your dermatologist about it.

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    This article was helpful - to a point. My 6 year old daughter has had tummy issues her whole life. To make a short story we had her blood tested & her antibody results were so high-off the chart- that her pediatrician said a biopsy wasn't necessary. She has celiac...period.

    My husband has had the same symptoms nearly his whole life (that's why we ignored our daughter's for so long). He got his blood tested. His antibodies were also off the charts - and again we were told by his doctor that a biopsy isn't necessary. "he has Celiac".

    We were told by 2 different doctors that a biopsy wasn't necessary. But all the research I've read said that the blood tests weren't 100% accurate.

     

    Both my husband & daughter have been gluten free for 2 months now. My husband's digestive issues have all but disappeared. My daughter however, still has very loose stools, but she's only going once a day instead of several times a day. I"m torn between giving her system a little more time, or requesting that biopsy after all.

    Paula - I found your comment to mean the most to our situation. My son was diagnosed with Celiac and also has "off the chart" blood tests for all 4 antibodies. The strange thing was that he is asymptomatic. I made the connection myself based on a tooth enamel defect that was found at the dentist office. We have all been tested (my husband, daughter and myself) and are awaiting the results. I am sure that I have it was well. Anyway, our doc was pushing the biopsy even though the blood tests were so compelling. We have chosen not to do that as my son just had his tonsils out and I do not want to put him through that right now. We have chosen to just eliminate the gluten altogether. I hope we have made the right choice. Did you ever have the biopsy done on your daughter?

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    This article was helpful - to a point. My 6 year old daughter has had tummy issues her whole life. To make a short story we had her blood tested & her antibody results were so high-off the chart- that her pediatrician said a biopsy wasn't necessary. She has celiac...period.

    My husband has had the same symptoms nearly his whole life (that's why we ignored our daughter's for so long). He got his blood tested. His antibodies were also off the charts - and again we were told by his doctor that a biopsy isn't necessary. "he has Celiac".

    We were told by 2 different doctors that a biopsy wasn't necessary. But all the research I've read said that the blood tests weren't 100% accurate.

     

    Both my husband & daughter have been gluten free for 2 months now. My husband's digestive issues have all but disappeared. My daughter however, still has very loose stools, but she's only going once a day instead of several times a day. I"m torn between giving her system a little more time, or requesting that biopsy after all.

    My GI doctor told me there is no way to diagnose just on the blood test. My doctor told me the same thing yours did. I was way off the chart as well...she told me I had celiac and to go on a gluten free diet. My GI doctor was very upset that she told me to go on the diet BEFORE I saw him. He said he HAS to do a biopsy to say I have celiacs.

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    Does anyone else get rhinitis (stuffy runny nose and sneezing) during their reactions or is it strictly gastro-intestinal for you?

    I get a runny nose as soon as I eat anything with gluten in it. I went on an elimination diet for 4 weeks because I was suffering from diarrhea, skin rashes, canker sores, gas, etc. The elimination diet cleared all of my symptoms. In trying things afterward, I got an immediate reaction to bread, so now I am off gluten completely.

     

    I don't think you need a doctor to tell you that you are gluten intolerant. They seem to have a protocol for "diagnosing" someone with celiac that includes the biopsy and tests, but the disease is on a continuum. Not everyone will test positive for every test, but if eliminating gluten helps, you should do it!

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    I am 19 and since I was little I have had stomach issues and chronic constipation. Now more recently I am having severe acne issues, and now am missing periods. I had a colonoscopy about a year ago and everything was fine. I went to a gynecologist and she tested my thyroid levels and my general physician said an antibody level was high but the thyroid function was okay. He sent me for blood work to test for celiac because I have a family history on my mom's side. He called with the results today and said "everything was normal". I am so frustrated because all he is doing is giving me medicine to help me go to the bathroom but they either make me sick or don't work at all, the only thing that works is Exlax. I want to push for an upper g.i. but I don't want to waste the time and money if i really don't have it. I don't know what else to do and it seems like since he can't figure out whats wrong he is just giving up. What do I do? Please help.

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    Does anyone else get rhinitis (stuffy runny nose and sneezing) during their reactions or is it strictly gastro-intestinal for you?

    Tim,

    I get a runny nose immediately when eating something with gluten in it- I mean within 2-3 minutes! It is quite amazing and annoying at the same time!

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  • About Me

    Scott Adams 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. In 1995 he launched the site that later became Celiac.com to help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives.  He is co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of the (formerly paper) newsletter Journal of Gluten Sensitivity. In 1998 he founded The Gluten-Free Mall which he sold in 2014. Celiac.com does not sell any products, and is 100% advertiser supported.


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