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Good news for celiac disease sufferers – biopsies may not be necessary for diagnosis

In a recent study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers found that blood tests and a history of patient symptoms might be all that’s needed to diagnose the majority of individuals with celiac disease. Until now, a diagnosis required a biopsy of the intestinal wall.

It is estimated that celiac disease (caused by an autoimmune reaction to wheat gluten) remains undiagnosed in a whopping 85% of cases. This may be due to the fact that symptoms are often non-specific (diarrhea and constipation, fatigue, anemia, tooth enamel defects, weight loss, and dry skin are some of the symptoms).

The researchers report:

We devised and evaluated a clinical decision tool that used a combination of pre-endoscopy serological testing (for tissue transglutaminase antibodies) and assessment of symptoms to identify patients with coeliac disease. This decision tool might help increase the detection of coeliac disease in patients attending for gastroscopy without the need to perform routine duodenal biopsy.

As efforts are underway to increase awareness in the primary care community about the disease, it is good to know that diagnosis may no longer require an invasive test!

This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

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2 Responses to “Good news for celiac disease sufferers – biopsies may not be necessary for diagnosis”

  1. RevJuicer says:

    I’ve been able to learn a lot about celiac disease over the past few months. It’s important to know that prior to biopsy if you suspect you may have celiac disease you can have some very specific blood tests, which include: anti-endomysial antibody (lgA EMA) and anti-gliadin antibody (lgA & IgG), and tissue transglutaminase (tTG IgA)–see for more info.

    America is behind in the “gluten-free” movement, several industrialized nations test children and the general population for celiac disease.

  2. BrightnSalty says:

    Definitely great news! Thanks Dr. Val! :)

    Also, RevJuicer, your comments are insightful, as well.

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