It is recognized that celiac disease can present with symptoms characteristic of irritable bowel syndrome and that a substantial proportion of patients referred to gastroenterologists with these symptoms may have celiac disease.
Dr Timothy Card and colleagues from the United Kingdom investigated how commonly those suffering with celiac disease are misdiagnosed as suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and whether such misdiagnosis delays the correct diagnosis.
The team conducted a case control study using computerized records from the General Practice Research Database.
The research team compared the proportion of patients with celiac disease who had a diagnosis of or had undergone treatment for irritable bowel syndrome over a variety of time periods before the diagnosis of celiac disease with the proportion
|16% of celiac patients had a prior diagnosis |
|Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology|
The team matched a group without celiac disease who were similarly diagnosed or treated.
The doctors examined that it was found that 16% of celiac patients had such a prior diagnosis compared to 5% of controls.
When the team considered a typical treatment for irritable bowel syndrome rather than diagnostic codes, 28% of celiac patients appeared to have been treated compared to 9% of controls.
Many of the diagnoses of irritable bowel syndrome occurred within the last year before diagnosis of celiac disease, but there was a clear excess of irritable bowel syndrome even 10 years earlier.
Dr Card's team commented, "In a contemporary UK practice, it is likely that at least some patients with celiac disease spend many years being treated as having irritable bowel syndrome."
"Following guidelines to test serologically for celiac disease will minimize this problem."