Celiac.com 11/18/2009 - Clinical studies of adults with celiac disease have shown that duodenal mucosal histopathological changes may be patchy, and the diagnostic value of duodenal bulb biopsies is thought to be limited. Very little data exist regarding how this applies to children with celiac disease.
A team of researchers recently set out to assess the prevalence of variable biopsy findings and duodenal bulb involvement in children with celiac disease, as well as its association with clinical parameters.
They looked at a total of 198 consecutive cases of celiac disease diagnosed at the Children’ s Hospital from 2001 to 2005. The team scored all biopsies using the Marsh criteria applied by a pathologist blinded to the clinical data.
The researchers categorized mucosal changes as 'focal' if changes consistent with celiac disease and normal mucosa were found within a single biopsy fragment. They defined 'patchiness' as variation of at least one Marsh grade between separate fragments in a biopsy set. The median patient age was 9.3 years; 62% were female.
The researchers took more than 700 biopsy samples, an average of 3.6 per patient. In 101 cases, they took biopsy sample from both the duodenal bulb and the second portion of the duodenum.
They classified 36 biopsy samples (18%) as focal. They classified 105 samples (53%) as 'patchy', with at least 1 normal biopsy fragment was present in 71 cases (36 %). In 10 cases, researchers made reliable diagnosis only via bulb biopsy. There was no association with the clinical features examined.
The research team concluded that duodenal involvement in childhood celiac disease is often patchy and may show variable severity even within a single biopsy fragment not reliably predicted by clinical characteristics. To maximize diagnostic yield, they recommend taking multiple endoscopic biopsies, including the duodenal bulb, in suspected cases of pediatric celiac disease.