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Ann Clin Biochem. 2000 Jul;37 ( Pt 4):467-70.

Cost-effective strategy for the serological investigation of coeliac disease.

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Department of Chemical Pathology, Bristol Royal Infirmary, UK.


Increased numbers of requests for serological investigation of coeliac disease, and a local trend to request both anti-gliadin antibodies (AGA) and anti-endomysium antibodies (AEA) simultaneously, resulted in cost pressures that prompted a review of our practice. Serology results from all patients (771 children, 511 adults) investigated for coeliac disease over a 3-year period were compared with small intestine histology where available. IgG AGA and IgA AGA were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (in-house), IgA AEA by immunofluorescence (send-away contract). Overall diagnostic performance was as follows: AGA sensitivity 84%, specificity 88%, positive predictive value (PPV) 24%, negative predictive value (NPV) 99%; AEA sensitivity 88%, specificity 97%, PPV 65%, NPV 99%. Results showed AGA, with its high NPV, to be a suitable first-line test to exclude coeliac disease. The high specificity of AEA makes it a suitable confirmatory test when AGA is positive. Introduction of this step-wise approach to coeliac disease investigation resulted in cost savings of at least Pound Sterling 5000 per year without detriment to the clinical service.

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