Update on Celiac Disease:
New Standards and New Tests
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the small intestine. Exposure to gluten—a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley—triggers an isolated inflammatory response in the small intestinal mucosa. This response destroys villi (finger-like protrusions) and interferes with the absorption of nutrients that leads to nutritional deficiencies. There are no typical celiac disease-specific symptoms; most people with the disease have general complaints such as intermittent diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating. In some patients Dermatitis herpetiformis, a related disease characterized by itchy, blistering skin, is seen. This confusing mix of symptoms and the difficulties of reaching a definitive diagnosis have prevented easy recognition of celiac disease. Early detection and treatment can decrease the significantly increased risk of intestinal carcinoma.
Mayo Medical Laboratories has developed a comprehensive algorithm for diagnosis of celiac disease.
Test Algorithm: Celiac Disease Testing Algorithm