Small Bowel Imaging in Celiac Disease: Is there a role for Small Bowel Ultrasound?

Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2023 Dec;25(12):430-439. doi: 10.1007/s11894-023-00907-3. Epub 2023 Nov 18.


Purpose of review: The incidence of celiac disease (CD) has increased over the last decades in part due to better disease awareness. Small bowel ultrasound (sb US) enables dynamic assessment of the bowel; although this topic has been addressed, the use of sb US in the diagnosis and in the follow-up of CD patients is limited to a few specialized tertiary referral centers. Herein, we aimed at summarizing the available literature on this topic to better define the potential clinical implications of sb US in CD, also through a comparison with other available diagnostic techniques.

Recent findings: According to available data, sb US can be of help in confirming or excluding CD in patients with clinical suspicion; specifically, the finding of increased gall bladder volume, free abdominal fluid and enlargement of mesenteric lymph nodes reliably and accurately predicts the diagnosis of CD, whereas the absence of bowel dilatation and increased peristalsis may exclude the diagnosis. However, the place of intestinal US in the diagnostic algorithm of CD is likely to vary depending on the probability of the disease in a given population. There are only a few studies on the role of sb US in complicated CD, even if recent reports suggest a possible clinical role. There is a lack of data on follow-up of CD patients, particularly with the aim of detecting a poor diet adherence. According to current data sb US parameters have been shown to be of value in confirming and excluding the diagnosis of CD. Prospective studies with large sample size are warranted to determine whether to include sb US in the available guidelines for CD diagnosis and monitoring.

Keywords: Celiac disease; Celiac sprue; Diagnosis; Follow-up; Intestinal ultrasound; Small bowel ultrasound.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Celiac Disease* / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Small / diagnostic imaging
  • Intestines
  • Prospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography