Coeliac disease detected by screening is not silent--simply unrecognized

R G Watson, J Sloan, A H Love, S D Johnston, S.A. McMillan

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113 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Coeliac disease (CD) is associated with a wide spectrum of clinical presentation and may be overlooked as a diagnosis. There is some evidence that untreated CD is associated with a doubling of mortality, largely due to an increase in the incidence of malignancy and small intestinal lymphoma, which is decreased by a strict gluten-free diet. We studied the clinical features of screening-detected coeliacs compared to age- and sex-matched controls as a 3-year follow-up to a population screening survey, and followed-up subjects who had had CD-associated serology 11 years previously to determine whether they have CD or an increased mortality rate compared to the general population. Samples of the general population (MONICA 1991 and 1983) were screened for CD-associated serology and followed-up after 3 and 11 years, respectively, and assessed by a clinical questionnaire, screening blood tests and jejunal biopsy. Mortality rates for 'all deaths' and 'cancer deaths' were compared in subjects with positive serology in 1983 with reference to the general population. Thirteen coeliacs were diagnosed by villous atrophy following screening, compared to two patients with clinically detected CD, giving a prevalence of 1:122. Clinical features or laboratory parameters were not indicative of CD compared to controls. Subjects with positive serology followed up after 11 years did not have an excess mortality for either cancer deaths or all causes of death. Screening-detected CD is rarely silent and may be associated with significant symptoms and morbidity. In this limited study with small numbers, there does not appear to be an increased mortality from screening-detected CD, although the follow-up may be too short to detect any difference.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)853-60
Number of pages8
JournalQJM : monthly journal of the Association of Physicians
Volume91
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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