Background: Recent literature has shown a correlation between Crohn's disease (CD) and celiac disease, but a prospective study has not been performed. Our aim was to evaluate the prevalence of celiac disease in a consecutive series of patients affected by CD, in whom the disease was diagnosed for the first time.
Methods: From January to December 2004, we diagnosed 27 patients affected by CD (13 men and 14 women; mean age, 32.3 yrs; range, 16-69 yrs). In all patients, we performed antigliadin, antiendomysium, and antitransglutaminase antibody tests, and the sorbitol H2 breath test evaluation. In case of antibodies and/or sorbitol positivity, esophagogastroduodenoscopy was performed for a small bowel biopsy.
Results: Antigliadin, antiendomysium, and antitransglutaminase antibody tests were positive in 8/27 (29.63%), 4/27 (14.81%), and 5/27 (18.52%) patients, respectively, whereas the sorbitol H2 breath test was positive in 11/27 (40.74%) patients: all of them underwent esophagogastroduodenoscopy. Nine of 11 patients showed signs of duodenal endoscopic damage, and 5/9 (55.55%) showed histologic features of celiac disease (18.52% of overall CD population studied): 2 showed Marsh IIIc lesions (1 patient affected by ileal CD and 1 affected by ileo-colonic CD), 2 showed Marsh IIIb lesions (all of them affected by ileo-colonic CD), 1 showed a Marsh IIIa lesion (1 patient affected by colonic CD).
Conclusions: Prevalence of celiac disease seems to be high among patients affected by CD, and this finding should be kept in mind at the time of the first diagnosis of CD; a gluten-free diet should be promptly started.