Background/aims: In recent years, an increased incidence of subclinical/silent celiac disease has been reported. Thus, we herein describe the prevalence and the clinical presentation of subclinical/silent celiac disease in 252 consecutive diagnosed celiac patients.
Methodology: From 1988 to 1999 we diagnosed 252 celiac patients (74M and 178F, mean age: 27.9 yrs; range: 15-65 yrs, F/M ratio: 2.4). 144 patients were referred to us due to gastrointestinal symptoms, while 108 were referred to us from other specialists due to unexplained or unresponsive disease. All patients underwent both total immunoglobulin A and antigliadin antibodies antiendomysium antibody and evaluation, followed by gastrointestinal endoscopy with duodenal histological examination.
Results: 144 (57.14%) and 108 (42.86%) patients showed classical and subclinical/silent celiac disease, respectively. The most frequent extraintestinal marker of subclinical celiac disease were iron-deficiency anemia (27.77%), alopecia and dermatitis herpetiformis (11.36%), osteoporosis (6.81%) and recurrent aphtous stomatitis (5.68%), while first-degree relatives (30%), Basedow's disease (25%) and insulin-dependent diabetes (20%) were the most frequent in silent celiac disease.
Conclusions: This study confirms the extremely polymorphic nature of this condition that can affect several organs and apparatus without gastrointestinal symptoms. However, a more precise description of subclinical/silent celiac disease can only emerge from screening studies on general populations.