CT findings in adult celiac disease

Francis J Scholz, Jalil Afnan, Spencer C Behr
Radiographics: a Review Publication of the Radiological Society of North America, Inc 2011, 31 (4): 977-92
Celiac disease is now recognized as a common disease, occurring in about one in every 200 Americans. However, less than 10% of cases are currently diagnosed, with a diagnostic delay of more than 10 years from onset of symptoms. In the past, barium examination of the small bowel demonstrated a pattern of abnormal findings caused by the pathophysiologic changes induced by malabsorption, thus leading to diagnosis of celiac disease and other diseases of malabsorption. Although not specific, that pattern prompted further patient evaluation. The number of barium examinations performed and the skill necessary to interpret their results are both in decline. Abdominal pain in celiac disease is a common early complaint that often leads to computed tomography (CT). Improved CT resolution now permits better depiction of the small bowel, colon, and mesenteric lymph nodes, all of which are affected by celiac disease. Detection of celiac disease with CT will allow treatment to be initiated to prevent the significant morbidity and increased mortality associated with a delay in diagnosis. The abnormal CT findings seen over the past decade during review of more than 200 cases of celiac disease demonstrate that CT depicts more features of celiac disease than did barium examination. Pattern recognition for the diagnosis of small bowel diseases that create structural changes in the bowel wall is well accepted. Because it demonstrates features of celiac disease not detected with barium examination, CT may be more sensitive than barium examination for diagnosis of this disease.

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