Understanding lab results

Lab results are often complicated and the tests alone can be a scary undertaking for those of us who are nervous at the thought of such a life-changing diagnosis. Below is a snapshot of what your lab results typically mean.

My go-go destination for all things Celiac and Gluten Sensitive related (Celiac.com) is often a bit too “medical” in nature and over my head, so while I encourage you to check their site for updated research findings, the every day person like myself can get a bit overwhelmed by all the medical-ease. But, you are welcome to click here and review their cases, and I encourage you to check it regularly for new findings.

According to our firends over at WebMD, in addition to a biopsy test, you can also opt for specific antibody tests for celiac disease.

Antibodies are proteins that are produced by the immune system to fight viruses, bacteria, and other organisms that infect the body. Sometimes, however, the body produces antibodies against non-infectious substances in the environment (for example, in hay fever) and even against its own tissues (autoimmunity).

Blood tests that are specific for celiac disease include endomysial antibodies, anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies, and anti-gliadin antibodies. In patients with celiac disease, anti-gliadin antibody is an antibody produced against gliadin in the diet and endomysial and anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies are antibodies produced against the body’s own tissues.

Endomysial antibodies and anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies are highly reliable in diagnosing celiac disease. An individual with abnormally elevated endomysial and anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies has a greater than 95% chance of having celiac disease. Anti-gliadin antibodies are less reliable and have a high false positive rate. Thus a person with an abnormally elevated anti-gliadin antibody level does not necessarily have celiac disease. Nevertheless, anti-gliadin antibody levels are useful in monitoring the response to treatment because anti-gliadin antibody levels usually begin to fall within several months of successful treatment of celiac disease with a gluten free diet.

Some celiac disease tests and possible results and their meanings:

Positive Normal Presumptive celiac disease
Negative Normal Negative Negative Negative Symptoms not likely due to celiac disease
Negative Low Positive Negative Positive Possible celiac disease (false negative anti-tTG, IgA and anti-DGP are due to total IgA deficiency)
Negative Normal Negative Positive Positive/negative Possible celiac disease (may be seen in children less than 3 years old)

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