Celiac disease diagnosis questions addressed by Mayo Clinic

Lana Bandoim's picture

The diagnosis process for celiac disease can be a long and difficult journey for some patients. The Mayo Clinic recently addressed a common concern from patients who are trying to determine if they have celiac disease or gluten sensitivities. The clinic highlighted some of the common steps taken to determine a diagnosis, and some of the issues that may arise.

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In general, the diagnosis process begins with a blood test to determine if a person has celiac disease. It is crucial that patients continue to eat gluten and not start the gluten-free diet while they are seeking a diagnosis because it affects the results. A patient recently asked the Mayo Clinic how it was possible to have a negative blood test for celiac disease while suffering from the symptoms of the condition. Dr. Lucinda Harris from the Mayo Clinic responded and provided insight on the diagnosis process.

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Dr. Lucinda Harris mentions that a blood test is only one part of the diagnosis process, and it is possible to have false negatives. She points out, “10 percent of people with negative blood tests have celiac disease.” An upper endoscopy is another important part of the diagnosis process. The Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF) mentions, “The only way to confirm a celiac disease diagnosis is by having an endoscopic biopsy.” All of the tests must be done while the patient continues to eat gluten because starting the gluten-free diet will affect the results.

Dr. Harris mentions that it is possible to have gluten sensitivities and receive test results that are negative for celiac disease. There are patients who cannot tolerate gluten and have symptoms of the disease, yet their blood tests and endoscopies do not show celiac disease. The Mayo Clinic mentions that intolerance to carbohydrates may be another cause of the symptoms mimicking celiac disease. Dr. Harris recommends that the patient who received a negative blood test seek more tests, find a doctor who specializes in celiac disease and work with a dietician.

Read more about celiac disease:
Doctors ignore proper celiac disease diagnosis and care
Celiac disease tripled in children in last 20 years

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