Aim: The diagnosis of celiac disease (CD) is still mainly based on pathological description. However, these descriptions are often unable to identify latent CD. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether the Marsh-Oberhuber classification and a recently proposed classification may help to identify patients with latent CD.
Methods: Biopsy samples from twelve patients with latent CD (age range 3-32 years) defined as having normal duodenal mucosa when ingesting a free diet, and subsequently developing severe villous atrophy, were retrospectively reviewed in blind according to the Marsh-Oberhuber classification and the new grading system.
Results: In 67% of patients the Marsh-Oberhuber and the new classification could have yielded a diagnosis of CD soon after the first biopsy (3a-3c score when reviewed according to this classification, and B2 score when reviewed according to the new grading system), thereby avoiding further (up to two more in four cases) unnecessary endoscopic procedures.
Conclusion: Both the Marsh-Oberhuber and the new classification allow to discriminate latent CD from patients with normal mucosa. Thus, these classifications may help in identifying and treating patients at an early stage.