Diseases of the stomach and small intestine account for approximately 20% of all gastrointestinal (GI)-related mortality. Biopsy of the stomach and small intestine remains a key diagnostic tool for most of the major diseases that affect the GI tract. While endoscopic means for obtaining biopsy is generally the standard of care, it has several limitations that make it less ideal for pediatric patients and in low resource areas of the world. Therefore, non-endoscopic means for obtaining biopsy samples is of interest in these settings. Areas covered: We review non-endoscopic biopsy techniques reported thus far, and critically examine their merits and demerits regarding their suitability for obtaining biopsy samples in non-sedated subjects. Expert commentary: Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) is the current standard for acquiring biopsy from the GI tract, however, its limitations include subject sedation, expensive endoscopy infrastructure, expert personnel, and a small but significant risk of complications. A less costly, minimally-invasive and non-endoscopic means for obtaining biopsy samples is therefore of interest for addressing these issues. Such a technology would be of significant impact in low- and middle-income countries where conducting endoscopy is challenging.
Keywords: Biopsy; esophagogastroduodenoscopy; gastrointestinal; minimally-invasive; non-endoscopic.