Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Screening for Celiac Disease

The purpose of a screening test is find a condition in its early stage. This will allow for early treatment. Screening tests are usually given to people who have a high risk of a disease and no current symptoms.

Screening Guidelines

There are no current screening guidelines for the general population. Screening may be recommended for those with high risk. Guidelines differ among professional organizations. Talk to your doctor about any tests that you or a family member may need, especially if:

  • You have a parent or sibling with celiac disease
  • Your child is at least 3 years old and is experiencing symptoms that are unexplained by other conditions
  • Other conditions that increase risk of having celiac such as:

Screening Tests

Screening tests may include one or more of the following:

  • Gluten challenge—A gluten-based food is consumed for 6-8 weeks. Then, the blood is tested for the presence of antibodies associated with celiac disease.
  • Blood tests to look for gluten antibodies, immune deficiencies, or genetic abnormalities.
  • Biopsy—A scope takes a small sample of tissue from the small intestine. These samples are examined under a microscope. This is the only way to confirm a diagnosis.

Note—Do not do the gluten challenge on your own or if you are pregnant. Testing must be done under a doctor's supervision.

REFERENCES:

Celiac disease. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114570/Celiac-disease. Updated January 10, 2018. Accessed February 12, 2018.

Celiac disease. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/malabsorption-syndromes/celiac-disease. Updated May 2016. Accessed February 12, 2018.

Screening. Celiac Disease Foundation website. Available at: https://celiac.org/celiac-disease/understanding-celiac-disease-2/diagnosing-celiac-disease/screening. Accessed February 12, 2018.

Last reviewed December 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daus Mahnke, MD  Last Updated: 2/12/2018