The American College of Gastroenterology issued updated guidelines for celiac disease diagnosis, management, and screening that incorporates research conducted since the last update in 2013.
The guidelines offer evidence-based recommendations for common clinical questions on topics that include nonbiopsy diagnosis, gluten-free oats, probiotic use, and gluten-detection devices. They also point to areas for ongoing research.
“The main message of the guideline is all about quality of care,” Alberto Rubio-Tapia, MD, a gastroenterologist at the Cleveland Clinic, said in an interview.
“A precise celiac disease diagnosis is just the beginning of the role of the gastroenterologist,” he said. “But most importantly, we need to take care of our patients’ needs with good goal-directed follow-up using a multidisciplinary approach, with experienced dietitians playing an important role.”
The update was published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.
The ACG assembled a team of celiac disease experts and expert guideline methodologists to develop an update with high-quality evidence, Dr. Rubio-Tapia said. The authors made recommendations and suggestions for future research regarding eight questions concerning diagnosis, disease management, and screening.
For diagnosis, the guidelines recommend esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) with multiple duodenal biopsies – one or two from the bulb and four from the distal duodenum – for confirmation in children and adults with suspicion of celiac disease. EGD and duodenal biopsies can also be useful for the differential diagnosis of other malabsorptive disorders or enteropathies, the authors wrote.
For children, a nonbiopsy option may be considered to be reliable for diagnosis. This option includes a combination of high-level tissue transglutaminase (TTG) IgA – at greater than 10 times the upper limit of normal – and a positive endomysial antibody finding in a second blood sample. The same criteria may be considered after the fact for symptomatic adults who are unwilling or unable to undergo upper GI endoscopy.
For children younger than 2 years, the TTG-IgA is the preferred test for those who are not IgA deficient. For children with IgA deficiency, testing should be performed using IgG-based antibodies.
Disease management guidance
After diagnosis, intestinal healing should be the endpoint for a gluten-free diet, the guidelines recommended. Clinicians and patients should discuss individualized goals of the gluten-free diet beyond clinical and serologic remission.
The standard of care for assessing patients’ diet adherence is an interview with a dietician who has expertise in gluten-free diets, the recommendations stated. Subsequent visits should be encouraged as needed to reinforce adherence.
During disease management, upper endoscopy with intestinal biopsies can be helpful for monitoring cases in which there is a lack of clinical response or in which symptoms relapse despite a gluten-free diet, the authors noted.
In addition, after a shared decision-making conversation between the patient and provider, a follow-up biopsy could be considered for assessment of mucosal healing in adults who don’t have symptoms 2 years after starting a gluten-free diet, they wrote.
“Although most patients do well on a gluten-free diet, it’s a heavy burden of care and an important issue that impacts patients,” Joseph Murray, MD, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said in an interview.
Dr. Murray, who wasn’t involved with this guideline update, contributed to the 2013 guidelines and the 2019 American Gastroenterological Association practice update on diagnosing and monitoring celiac disease. He agreed with many of the recommendations in this update.
“The goal of achieving healing is a good goal to reach. We do that routinely in my practice,” he said. “The older the patient, perhaps the more important it is to discuss, including the risk for complications. There’s a nuance involved with shared decision-making.”