The diagnostic value of the duodenal biopsy: A clinico-pathologic analysis of 28,000 patients

Susanne W. Carmack, Robert M. Genta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Duodenal biopsies are frequently obtained to investigate malabsorption, diarrhoea, and aneamia. The proportion of patients who have duodenal biopsies and their diagnostic yield are unclear. Aims: To determine what proportion of patients undergoing esophagogastroduodenoscopy in a private setting has duodenal biopsies and to evaluate the diagnostic yield relative to clinical indications and endoscopic findings. Methods: Records of patients who had duodenal biopsies diagnosed at a United States gastrointestinal pathology laboratory in a single year were analysed. Results: 28,210 patients with and 75,175 without duodenal biopsies were studied. Duodenal biopsy patients were younger (52 years versus 58 years, p<0.001) and more likely to be female (OR 1.46; p<0.0001); 87% of children and 27% of adults had duodenal biopsies. Suspicion of malabsorption or sprue, diarrhoea, aneamia, and weight loss were strong predictors of duodenal biopsy. More than 80% of patients had normal duodenum, except those biopsied for sprue, 64% of whom had normal findings. Marsh II-IIIc lesions were diagnosed in 23% of patients with suspected sprue, but in 3.0% of those with diarrhoea, weight loss, or aneamia, and in 1.5% of patients with dyspepsia or GERD. Conclusions: A clinical suspicion of sprue produces the highest yield of histopathologic abnormalities; women are biopsied more often than men despite having less duodenal pathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-489
Number of pages5
JournalDigestive and Liver Disease
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Celiac disease
  • Duodenal biopsy
  • Duodenum
  • Gender bias
  • Histopathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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