Coeliac Disease Tests

Other names: Gluten-Sensitive Enteropathy Tests

Coeliac disease tests help to rule out or confirm cases of coeliac disease. Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition, which causes the body to react in a negative way to gluten, a protein which is found in rye, wheat, barley and oats. The tests detect autoantibodies, which are produced by the body to combat gluten; they cause the gut to become inflamed and can damage the lining of the gut wall.

When is the test used?

The test is primarily used to test for coeliac disease, but it may also be used to test for similar conditions which are associated with heightened sensitivity to gluten.

The test is usually ordered when a patient has symptoms associated with Coeliac disease, including:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhoea
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness

Young children may be tested for coeliac disease if they appear to developing slower than usual and are much shorter than average.

The test may also be ordered for people who have a family history of coeliac disease, as this can increase the risk of a patient having coeliac disease.

The test may also be ordered once a patient has started a course of treatment to ease symptoms of coeliac disease; the test can detect the autoantibodies in the blood and will check that a gluten-free diet has caused the levels of autoantibodies to decrease.

How is the test performed?

The test is done by collecting and analysing a sample of the patient’s blood; a sample is collected from a vein in the arm. A needle is inserted into the vein and the blood is drawn and collected in a syringe. Once the sample has been collected, it will be bottled, labelled and sent away to the laboratory for analysis.

What do the test results show?

If the anti-TTG test (the autoantibody test) is positive, it is very likely that the patient has coeliac disease. However, further tests will usually be carried out to ensure the diagnosis is correct.

If the anti-TTG test is negative, it is very unlikely that the patient has coeliac disease.

If the patient has been diagnosed with coeliac disease and has started eating a gluten-free diet, their test results should record a decrease in autoantibody levels.

Specific Blood Tests

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