Background: Neurological symptoms of unknown origin are common in coeliac disease (CD). Evidence suggests that CD may also contribute to the development of idiopathic late-onset ataxia.
Aim: To evaluate the frequency of CD in patients with cerebellar ataxia of unknown origin.
Methods: The medical files of adult patients with the diagnosis of cerebellar ataxia of unknown origin (n=44) were evaluated. Serum gliadin, endomysial, and serum tissue transglutaminase antibodies were used as screening tests for CD. Subjects with positive results were referred to small-bowel biopsy.
Results: The frequency of CD was as high as 9.1% in all patients. A thorough interview and review of the patient files indicated alcohol abuse as a cause for cerebellar disease in almost half (45.5%) of our patients. When the cases with alcohol abuse were omitted, the calculated frequency of CD was 16.7% in patients with ataxia of unknown origin.
Conclusion: CD is a common association with cerebellar disease and the disease should be considered in all patients with ataxia of unknown origin.