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Adult celiac disease: US signs

T Rettenbacher, A Hollerweger, P Macheiner, S Huber, N Gritzmann
Radiology 1999, 211 (2): 389-94

PURPOSE: To examine whether distinct ultrasonographic (US) signs exist in patients with adult celiac disease.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: In a partly retrospective study, abdominal sonograms were obtained in 11 patients with adult celiac disease. Fifty matched control subjects also were examined. After the patients had fasted overnight, they were examined with 2-4-MHz abdominal and high-frequency 5-10-MHz linear-array US transducers.

RESULTS: The authors found several US pathologic signs in patients with untreated disease, including abnormal fluid-filled small intestine in all 11 patients, flaccid and moderately dilated small-bowel loops (2.5-3.5 cm) in eight, slight diffuse thickening of the small-bowel wall (3-5 mm) in seven, increased peristalsis of the small intestine in eight, enlarged mesenteric lymph nodes (anteroposterior diameter 5-10 mm) in nine, dilated caliber of the superior mesenteric artery or portal vein in seven, free fluid in the abdominal cavity in five, and increased echogenicity of the liver in six. None of these signs was present in the control group.

CONCLUSION: There are several US signs associated with adult celiac disease. None of the signs identified is specific, but a combination of signs is characteristic and indicates suspicion of this disease in a high percentage of cases. US could help to avoid diagnostic delay, especially in patients who have atypical clinical presentations.

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