Patients with celiac disease can have their diagnosis delayed by about 3.5 years if they do not have gastrointestinal symptoms, according to research published in The American Journal of Medicine.
Mukund Venu, MD, of the division of gastroenterology at Loyola University Medical Center, said physicians need to look for other signs of the disease, including anemia, thyroid dysfunction and osteoporosis, to diagnose these patients earlier in the process.
“We sought to increase awareness for celiac disease and the impact it has on the entire body, not just the gastrointestinal system,” Venu told Healio Gastroenterology and Liver Disease.
Venu and colleagues reviewed the history of 687 patients diagnosed with biopsy-proven celiac disease and categorized them based on the presence or absence of GI symptoms. In total, 101 patients met their inclusion criteria. The researchers identified 52 patients that presented with GI symptoms and 49 with non-GI symptoms.
Patients in the non-GI group had a median delay of diagnosis of 42 months, while the median delay for the GI group was just 2.3 months, according to the study (P < .001).
The non-GI group was more likely to have abnormal thyroid-stimulating hormone (43.2% vs 15.5%; P =.004), anemia (69.4% vs 11.5%; P < .001) and abnormal bone density scans (68% vs 41%).
The investigators noted that physicians need to keep these non-GI symptoms in mind to ensure that a patient’s celiac disease is not overlooked.
“Providers should consider the diagnosis of celiac disease in patients with non-gastrointestinal symptoms, as the delay in diagnosis may lead to significant health complications from untreated medical problems,” Venu said. – by Alex Young
Disclosures: The authors reported no relevant financial disclosures.