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Rheumatol Int. 2008 Apr;28(6):547-51. Epub 2007 Nov 24.

Celiac disease in a rheumatology unit: a case study.

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Dipartimento di Medicina Clinica e Sperimentale, Università di Verona, Policlinico G.B. Rossi, P.le Scuro, 37134 Verona, Italy.


The objective of the study is to present a series of 20 patients who have been attending a rheumatology unit and were diagnosed with celiac disease in adult life. The record-charts of 20 Italian not consanguineous patients affected by celiac disease (1 man and 19 women, mean age of 46.7), diagnosed at >16 years of age, followed by a rheumatology unit were reviewed (group 1). Any other autoimmune disease diagnosed in the patients were given was recorded; moreover, the reason for rheumatologist evaluation was registered as well as the presence of symptoms suggestive of celiac disease and the obstetric history. The clinical features were compared with those of a group of 40 celiac patients (8 men and 32 women, mean age of 43.1) followed by a medicine department (group 2); even in these cases the diagnosis of celiac disease was performed in adult life. Sixteen out of 20 patients in Group 1 were diagnosed as suffering from celiac disease by the rheumatologist. Seventeen concomitant autoimmune disorders among which nine were connective tissue diseases were found in 15 patients. The main reason for rheumatologist evaluation was arthromyalgias. Ten patients showed one or more clinical features suggestive of celiac disease; moreover, eight patients had a history of sideropenic anemia. After the adoption of a gluten-free diet there were three pregnancies that all ended with alive newborns, differently from the obstetric history before celiac disease diagnosis, characterized by a relevant number of miscarriages and foetus deaths. In Group 2, a total of ten autoimmune diseases concomitant with celiac disease were found in eight patients; autoimmune thyroid disorders represented the most frequent cases. No connective tissue diseases were recognized. Celiac disease may coexist with connective tissue diseases; the recognition of this association is difficult because celiac disease may present with atypical or even symptomless forms or in some cases may resemble a multisystem disorder or may mimic a rheumatologic condition; on the other hand, the variety of symptoms of rheumatic disorders may make difficult the diagnosis of celiac disease in association with a systemic autoimmune disease. These confounding factors often lead to a delay in performing the right diagnostic formulation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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