Small bowel biopsy for malabsorption: comparison of the diagnostic adequacy of endoscopic forceps and capsule biopsy specimens

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1985 Sep 21;291(6498):769-72. doi: 10.1136/bmj.291.6498.769.


Biopsy specimens of the small bowel were obtained from 40 patients suspected of having malabsorption. Four different techniques were used at a single session--namely, endoscopic biopsy of the descending duodenum using paediatric and standard size forceps and suction capsule biopsy of the descending duodenum and the proximal jejunum. Specimens were compared for size, adequacy, and ability to confirm or exclude mucosal abnormality. Fourteen patients had villous atrophy. In all patients four biopsy specimens were obtained with paediatric endoscopic forceps and four with standard endoscopic forceps. No capsule biopsy specimen was retrieved from the duodenum in three patients and from the jejunum in five patients. Specimens were considered to be adequate in 36 patients when paediatric forceps were used, in 39 when standard forceps were used, in 28 on duodenal capsule biopsy, and in 32 on jejunal capsule biopsy. This study indicates that the most reliable method for diagnosing or excluding villous atrophy is endoscopic forceps biopsy of the descending duodenum, provided that at least four specimens are obtained with standard size forceps.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Biopsy / methods*
  • Duodenum / pathology
  • Endoscopy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Small / pathology*
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucous Membrane / pathology