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Scand J Gastroenterol. 1996 Jan;31(1):54-60.

Symptoms and haematologic features in consecutive adult coeliac patients.

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Dept. of Medical Gastroenterology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.



The aim of this study was to determine in a homogeneous adult population from Denmark, which is known to have very low incidence rates of coeliac disease, 1) the percentage of patients presenting with mild or atypical symptoms; 2) a possible change in clinical pattern over time; and 3) the delay in diagnosis and the age and sex distribution.


The symptoms, delay in diagnosis, age, sex, and haematologic features of 50 consecutive adult coeliac patients, diagnosed by the same person in a uniform manner, are presented.


The median age was 40.5 (range, 17-82) years. The male to female sex ratio was 1:2.8. The median delay in diagnosis was 3 years. Fifty-eight per cent reported symptoms that could be attributed to coeliac disease during childhood. Presenting symptoms were tiredness, 78%; borborygmus, 72%; abdominal pain, 64%; diarrhoea, 56%; weight loss, 44%; vomiting, 16%; constipation, 12%; bone pain, 12%; and dermatitis herpetiformis, 10%. Weight gain after treatment was experienced by 84%. As a group the coeliac patients had many abnormal blood analysis results, but many patients had several test results inside the normal range. Only 22% had anemia. Liver involvement was not an uncommon feature (19% had increased transaminase levels). Low values were registered in s-iron (32%), p-folate (49%), c-folate (35%), p-vitamin B12 (11%), p-coagulation factors (II, VII, X) (32%), s-protein (21%), s-albumin (26%), s-calcium (43%), p-magnesium (13%), and s-zinc (31%). High/low IgG levels were 3%/8%; high, IgA 21%; high/low IgM, 65%/14%; and high IgE, 71%. The gliadin antibody test was the best screening test (81% positive). No changes in clinical pattern were demonstrated during the period.


The percentage of patients presenting with anaemia (22%) and other haematologic signs of malabsorption was one of the lowest reported ever. This emphasizes the highly variable and subtle clinical expression of adult coeliac disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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