Low prevalence of upper endoscopic gastrointestinal findings despite high frequency of alarm symptoms at the time of diagnosis in adult coeliac disease

Objectives Exclusion of organic disorders involving the upper gastrointestinal (UGI) is a mandatory step before considering a biopsy-avoidance diagnostic strategy for adult coeliac disease. We aim to evaluate the prevalence of alarm symptoms and coincidental UGI endoscopic findings at the time of diagnosis of coeliac disease. To develop consensus criteria to identify patients with coeliac disease requiring a gastroscopy and to evaluate whether alarm symptoms prompting gastroscopy were predictive of endoscopic findings.Methods Presenting symptoms and UGI endoscopic findings at diagnosis of coeliac disease were collected retrospectively in 278 adult patients with coeliac disease diagnosed in Pavia between January 1999 and December 2017. A panel of experts developed criteria to evaluate which clinical scenarios warrant gastroscopy, which was then applied retrospectively to patients diagnosed in Pavia.Results At least one alarm symptom was present in 177/278 patients, 121/278 met our criteria for gastroscopy. Major UGI endoscopic findings included 3 cases of autoimmune atrophic gastritis, 19 oesophagitis and 20 Helicobacter pylori infections. No organic disorders were found. Prevalence of major endoscopic findings did not differ between patients who met our criteria and those who did not.Conclusions Despite the high prevalence of alarm symptoms at diagnosis, coincident major UGI endoscopic findings are rare in adult coeliac disease. These results may be relevant for future developments in coeliac disease diagnosis in adults.