>99% Accuracy in Non-Biopsy Diagnosis of Celiac Disease

Another large study (KJ Werkstetter et al. Gastroenterol 2017; 153: 924-35) shows a high accuracy of diagnosing celiac disease (CD) without a biopsy when very high celiac titers are identified in symptomatic patients. A previous study (n=898) this year also showed similar findings: The Non-Biopsy Diagnosis of Pediatric Celiac Disease

The current study (2001-2014) identified 743 consecutive pediatric patients with positive celiac serology (TTG-IgA). Key findings:

  • If TTG-IgA was higher than 10-fold the upper limit of normal and a separate sample tested positive for endomysial antibodies, then non-biopsy approach had a positive predictive value >99.6%.  The authors utilized a variety of TTG-IgA assays.
  • The authors noted that HLA-DQ2/DQ8 typing did not improve the accuracy of CD diagnosis.  “Negative results for HLA-DQ2/DQ8 in patients with TGA or EMA positivity are most likely false negative …or due to very rare risk-allele combinations not recognized by the test systems.”
  • “At least 50% of affected children in clinical practice will benefit from this nonbiopsy approach, which reduces burden and risks of endoscopy and anesthesia” and is more cost-effective.

The authors’ conclusion: “allowing omission of biopsies enables a correct diagnosis of CD in symptomatic children if TTG-IgA exceed 10xULN and positive EMA-IgA confirms celiac disease autoimmunity in a second blood sample. If one of these criteria is not fulfilled, biopsy should be performed to confirm the diagnosis.”

My take: This study provides convincing data that CD diagnosis does NOT require an intestinal biopsy under specific conditions.

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