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Antibody tests to simplify coeliac disease diagnosis



By Lilian Anekwe

Two antibody tests for diagnosing coeliac disease have high sensitivity and specificity and could simplify diagnosis say UK and Dutch researchers.

The team led by primary care researchers at the University of Keele reviewed sixteen trials of gastrointestinal symptoms or serum antibody tests to diagnose 6,000 adult patients who presented with non-acute abdominal symptoms.

The performance of abdominal symptoms, such as diarrhoea and constipation, as a diagnostic guide varied widely.

But eight studies found IgA antiendomysial antibody testing had a sensitivity of 90% and a specificity of 99%. Seven studies on IgA antitissue transglutaminase antibody testing showed it had a sensitivity of 89% and a specificity of 98%.

Lead author Dr Daniëlle van der Windt, reader in general practice epidemiology at the University of Keele, concluded: ‘In adult patients chronic abdominal symptoms alone are insufficient for diagnosing celiac disease. These antibodies have high sensitivity and specificity.’

JAMA. 2010;303(17):1738-1746

Primary care blood tests ‘useful for coeliac diagnosis’