Small intestinal biopsies in celiac disease: duodenal or jejunal?

Virchows Arch. 2003 Feb;442(2):124-8. doi: 10.1007/s00428-002-0709-7. Epub 2002 Dec 20.


Background: For diagnosis and follow-up of celiac disease, pediatric societies advise that intestinal mucosal specimens should be obtained using suction capsule from the jejunum. This procedure is strenuous for patients, time-consuming, expensive and requires radiographic guidance. Mucosal biopsies from the distal duodenum can be obtained more easily under endoscopic vision using forceps. The aim of the present study was to compare biopsies taken from the duodenal mucosa by forceps and from the jejunal mucosa using suction capsule with respect to histological outcome.

Methods: For this study, 171 paired biopsies were taken from 109 patients (1-75 years) from the distal duodenal mucosa using jumbo forceps and from the jejunal mucosa using Crosby suction capsule. Histological interpretation was performed according to a modified Marsh classification, including partial-, subtotal and total villous atrophy as Marsh IIIA, B, and C.

Results: Fourteen suction capsule biopsies were of insufficient quality to be interpreted (8%). All duodenal forceps biopsies produced adequate material for histological scoring. No differences in histological scoring were seen in 145 of 157 compared biopsies (92%). Of 12 biopsies in which a discrepancy was present, 4 showed more severe lesions in the duodenum and 8 more severe lesions in the jejunum. The differences were of clinical significance, i.e., including the presence and absence of villous atrophy in 9 of 157 paired biopsies (6%).

Conclusion: In the present study, we demonstrated that mucosal specimens taken from the distal duodenal and jejunal mucosa are strongly correlated. Clinically significant discrepancies were present in only 6% of paired biopsies. Therefore we suggest that, in diagnosis and follow-up of celiac disease, mucosal specimens may be taken from the duodenum using forceps to obtain adequate material for histological interpretation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy / methods*
  • Celiac Disease / pathology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Duodenum / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Jejunum / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results