Background: Various endoscopic markers have been described in coeliac disease, particularly in the second part of the duodenum, with minor attention generally being paid to the duodenal bulb.
Aims: To evaluate, prospectively, the presence of all endoscopic markers in the bulb and the second part of the duodenum on a large series of patients submitted to endoscopy for duodenal biopsy. PATIENTS AND METHODS. A total of 367 consecutive patients, submitted to endoscopy with duodenal biopsy for various indications, were considered. Biopsies were graded as normal, with partial villous atrophy (mild, moderate, severe) or with subtotal villous atrophy. Endoscopic markers and corresponding locations evaluated were: micronodular pattern [bulb and descending duodenum], mosaic appearance (bulb and descending duodenum), scalloped folds (descending duodenum), reduced or absent folds (descending duodenum).
Results: In 78 patients, a diagnosis of untreated coeliac disease was made. Endoscopic markers were seen in 73/78 patients, with only a single sign present (bulb or descending duodenum) in 12 patients. In the remaining 289 patients, normal histology and normal endoscopic findings were observed, except in two patients with reduced folds. Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values and diagnostic accuracy regarding all endoscopic markers were 93.6%, 99.3%, 97.3%, 98.3% and 98.1%, respectively
Conclusions: This study confirms the usefulness of endoscopic markers in detecting coeliac disease, underlining the importance of evaluating also abnormalities in the bulb and endoscopic single signs; although endoscopy may not detect all cases of coeliac disease, the recognition of endoscopic markers allows the selection for biopsy of unsuspected patients submitted to endoscopy for non-specific symptoms.