Aim: A correct diagnosis of coeliac disease, one of the most common chronic diseases in Swedish children, demands small bowel biopsy, which can be performed endoscopically or by means of a peroral capsule. Recently there was a debate among Swedish paediatric gastroenterologists, with some advocating the cessation of capsule biopsy in favour of endoscopic biopsies. To gain information on which to base a recommendation for which technique to use, the Swedish Working Group for Childhood Coeliac Disease was commissioned to carry out a national questionnaire study on current small bowel biopsy routines in Swedish paediatric clinics.
Methods: A questionnaire concerning biopsy routines in the year 2000 was sent to all paediatric clinics performing biopsies. A reply was obtained from 39 of 40 clinics, covering 98% of the Swedish population.
Results: Some 1400 biopsies were performed, 64% of which were capsule biopsies and 36% endoscopic. Three clinics performed all biopsies endoscopically and 11 clinics all via a capsule. At endoscopy all children were under deep sedation or full anaesthesia, while most children undergoing capsule biopsy were under light or deep sedation. The oxygen saturation was monitored during endoscopy but less often or never during routine capsule biopsy. The presence of the parents during biopsy varied according to the degree of sedation: at 97% of the clinics performing capsule biopsy on children under light sedation, the parents were present during the whole procedure, whereas no parents were present at clinics where the biopsy was performed endoscopically under anaesthesia.
Conclusion: Compared with the results of a similar questionnaire concerning biopsy routines performed in the early 1990s, children are now more effectively sedated. Furthermore, there is an obvious trend from capsule towards endoscopic biopsy. Both the endoscopic and the capsule biopsy techniques are useful and satisfactory for obtaining small bowel mucosal samples providing that the children are effectively sedated. For practical and economic reasons the capsule biopsy technique will probably continue to be used, although to a lesser extent than today.