Evidence Against Routine Testing of Patients with Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders for Celiac Disease: A Population-based Study

Choung RS1, Rubio-Tapia A2, Lahr BD3, Kyle RA4, Camilleri MJ5, Locke GR 3rd2, Talley NJ6, Murray JA7. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2015 May 15. pii: S1542-3565(15)00690-4. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2015.05.014. [Epub ahead of print]
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1Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology; Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 3Division of Biomedical Statistics and Informatics. 4Division of Hematology. 5Department of Dermatology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA. 6Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology; Faculty of Health and Medicine, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia. 7Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Electronic address: murray.joseph@mayo.edu.


BACKGROUND & AIMS: Celiac disease has been linked to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)-like symptoms in outpatient clinics. Guidelines recommend that all patients with IBS-like symptoms undergo serologic testing for celiac disease, but there is controversy over whether celiac disease is more prevalent in populations with IBS-like symptoms. We aimed to determine whether positive results from serologic tests for celiac disease are associated with IBS and other functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) in a large US White population.

METHODS: Validated, self-report bowel disease questionnaires (BDQs) were sent to randomly selected cohorts of Olmsted County, Minnesota, residents. In separate protocols, serum samples were collected from more than 47,000 Olmsted County residents without a prior diagnosis of celiac disease; we performed serologic tests for celiac disease on stored serum samples from residents who completed the BDQ. Logistic regression was used to test for the association between serologic markers of celiac disease (positive vs negative) and individual FGIDs.

RESULTS: A total of 3202 subjects completed the BDQ and had serum available for testing. IBS was identified in 13.6% of these subjects (95% confidence interval [CI], 12.4%-14.8%), and any gastrointestinal symptom occurred in 55.2% (95% CI, 53.5%-56.9%). The prevalence of celiac disease by based on serologic markers was 1.0% (95% CI, 0.7%-1.4%). IBS was less prevalent in patients with celiac disease (3%) than patients without celiac disease (14%), though the difference was not statistically significant (odds ratio=0.2; 95% CI, 0.03-1.5). Abdominal pain, constipation, weight loss, and dyspepsia were the most frequent symptom groups in subjects who were seropositive for celiac disease, but none of the gastrointestinal symptoms or disorders was significantly associated with celiac disease serology.

CONCLUSIONS: Symptoms indicative of FGIDs and sero-positive celiac disease are relatively common in a US white community. Testing for celiac disease in patients with IBS in the community may not have a significantly increased yield over population-based screening in the US.

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