Background and study aims: Patients with refractory celiac disease (RCD) are at risk of intestinal T-cell lymphoma, which is difficult to diagnose because it often develops in the small bowel. We therefore studied whether wireless capsule endoscopy was able to detect ulcerative jejunitis or intestinal T-cell lymphomas that were missed by standard endoscopic and imaging procedures in patients with RCD.
Patients and methods: Detection of ulcerative jejunitis and overt T-cell lymphoma by capsule endoscopy or by upper and lower endoscopy, abdominal computed tomography (CT) or abdominal magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) was compared in 14 consecutive patients with RCD: in seven patients who showed loss of T-cell antigens on intraepithelial lymphocytes and/or clonality of the T-cell receptor gene (i. e. type II RCD) and in seven patients who did not have these features (i. e. type I RCD).
Results: Complete evaluation of the small bowel by capsule endoscopy was achieved in 9/14 patients. Signs of ulcerative jejunitis or intestinal T-cell lymphoma, affecting further clinical management, were found in two patients with type II RCD: in one patient these signs were found only by capsule endoscopy (ulcerations and stenosis) and in another patient the abnormalities were identified by CT/MRT (mesenteric lymph nodes harboring lymphoma). No clinically relevant abnormalities were found in patients with type I RCD by lower endoscopy or by small-bowel imaging (capsule endoscopy, CT, or MRT).
Conclusions: In patients with type II RCD, capsule endoscopy can detect additional cases with ulcerative jejunitis and could be included in the diagnostic armamentarium, subject to confirmation by larger series. In patients with type I RCD, our study confirmed the low diagnostic yield of imaging procedures, including wireless capsule endoscopy.