An intestinal biopsy has long been the standard method for determining with certainty that a person has celiac disease. A new report from Finland, however, now says there is a blood test can accurately diagnose celiac disease in some patients without the need for a biopsy.
The patients who qualify for the blood test, the researchers say, are those who fit a “triple criteria.” These criteria involve the presence of certain antibodies and whether the patients have the celiac genotype (genetic mutations associated with celiac disease).
To test their theory, the research team, which was headed by Kalle Kurppa, M.D., of the University of Tampere in Finland, recruited three groups. The first was considered at high risk for celiac disease, the second was moderate risk, and the third was low risk. Of these, 90 subjects fit the “triple criteria” and were given a specially designed blood test. Of these 90, the ones who tested positive for celiac disease according to the blood test were then given intestinal biopsies.
The biopsies showed that every one of them did in fact have celiac disease, which gave the blood test a predictive value of 100 percent. The researchers also noted that the test worked well even on people who had no symptoms of celiac disease, which was advantageous because it can be hard to recognize the symptoms.
The researchers summed up their findings by saying that the use of their blood test could “lead to substantially reduced number of endoscopies and subsequent healthcare savings without affecting the diagnostic accuracy.”