Random duodenal biopsy to exclude coeliac disease as a cause of anaemia is not cost-efective and should be replaced with universally performed pre-endoscopy serology in patients on a suspected cancer pathway.
BACKGROUND: Random duodenal biopsy to exclude coeliac disease during uppern gastrointestinal endoscopy for the investigation of iron deficiency anaemia remains a common procedure, but is expensive and time-consuming. Serological investigation for coeliac disease is also recommended, having excellent accuracy with the added benefit of lower cost. This study sought to examine the utility of duodenal biopsy and coeliac serology in the diagnosis of coeliac disease. METHODS: A prospectively maintained database was interrogated to identify all patients having upper gastrointestinal endoscopy for the investigation of anaemia between January 01, 2016, and December 31, 2016. RESULTS: Of the 1131 patients having an endoscopy, coeliac serology was measured in only 412 (36%) and was positive in 9 cases (2%), leading to 6 histological diagnoses of coeliac disease and 3 false positives. Two-hundred and seventy-four patients with negative serology had biopsies taken which were all negative. Only 2/451 (0.4%) patients who had biopsies performed in the absence of a serology test were histologically positive for coeliac disease. The cost per diagnosis of a case of coeliac disease in those with either negative or absent coeliac serology was £18,839 (US$25,244, €21,196). CONCLUSIONS: Random duodenal biopsy is not a cost-effective method of diagnosing coeliac disease and should be replaced with pre-endoscopy coeliac serology.