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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 27, Issue 7, Pages 405-408
Original Article

Detection of Adult Celiac Disease Using Duodenal Screening Biopsies Over a 30-Year Period

Hugh James Freeman

Department of Medicine (Gastroenterology), University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Received 4 March 2013; Accepted 6 May 2013

Copyright © 2013 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Serological studies suggest that celiac disease may be present in approximately 0.5% to 1% of the North American population. Screening data based on small intestinal biopsy performed during routine endoscopic evaluations are not available.

METHODS: Patients referred between January 1982 and December 2011 for evaluation of gastrointestinal symptoms and requiring elective investigative upper endoscopic evaluation underwent duodenal biopsies to determine whether changes of adult celiac disease were present.

RESULTS: A total of 9665 patients, including 4008 (41.5%) males and 5657 (68.5%) females, underwent elective endoscopies and duodenal biopsies. Of these, 234 (2.4%) exhibited changes of celiac disease including 73 males (1.8%) and 161 females (2.8%). During the first 20 years, the number of biopsy-positive patients in five-year intervals progressively decreased and, subsequently, during the next 10 years, the number progressively increased.

CONCLUSIONS: Celiac disease is far more common in specialist practice than has been suggested in the evaluation of healthy populations using serological screening studies. Endoscopic duodenal biopsy is an important method of identifying underlying celiac disease and should be routinely considered in all patients undergoing an elective endoscopic evaluation. Noninherited factors, possibly environmental, may play a role in the appearance of biopsy-defined celiac disease and alter detection over time.