Diagnostic modalities for the evaluation of small bowel disorders

Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2015 Mar;31(2):111-7. doi: 10.1097/MOG.0000000000000159.


Purpose of review: This review summarizes the recent developments in the evaluation of small bowel disorders using videocapsule endoscopy (VCE) and serological and breath-test biomarkers.

Recent findings: The ability to visualize the small bowel was revolutionized with the introduction of VCE technology. VCE allows for accurate, noninvasive visualization of the small bowel mucosa. This device is invaluable in the investigation of obscure gastrointestinal bleeding (OGIB), occult bleeding with iron deficiency anaemia, small bowel Crohn's disease (CD), small bowel neoplasms and other mucosal disorders. Recent studies underscored the utility of VCE for documenting the extent and severity of small bowel CD as well as monitoring activity after therapy. The accuracy of the discrimination between small bowel tumours and benign bulges has been improved by a novel endoscopic algorithm. The accuracy of VCE was also evaluated as a potential noninvasive alternative to small bowel biopsies in suspected celiac disease. New findings have been made using breath tests and other biomarkers for the diagnosis of celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome and bacterial overgrowth.

Summary: VCE as well as breath-test biomarkers play a major and expanding role in the diagnosis and monitoring of various small bowel disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Breath Tests*
  • Capsule Endoscopy*
  • Celiac Disease / diagnosis*
  • Crohn Disease / diagnosis*
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / diagnosis*
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / pathology
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Small / pathology*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Biomarkers