Follow-up of patients with celiac disease: achieving compliance with treatment.Gastroenterology 2005; 128(4 Suppl 1):S135-41G
Celiac disease is the only autoimmune condition for which we know the environmental trigger: gluten. Complete removal of gluten from the diet in a patient with celiac disease should result in symptomatic, serologic, and histologic remission. However, compliance with the gluten-free diet, especially in the United States, is extremely challenging. Compliance can be measured both noninvasively, by dietary history and measurement of serum antibodies, and invasively, by using endoscopic and histologic criteria. The advantages and disadvantages of these various modalities are discussed. The highest rates of compliance are reported in patients who are diagnosed as young children, whereas adolescents and those diagnosed via mass serologic screening have the most transgressions. Barriers to compliance include the poor palatability of gluten-free foods, confusing food-labeling practices, and common comorbid psychologic burdens such as anxiety and depression. Because celiac disease is a multisystemic disorder, physicians need to be aware of the potential autoimmune, nutritional, and malignant complications. An algorithm for the follow-up and management of the newly diagnosed celiac disease patient is presented, which includes regular follow-up; measurement of serum antibodies; eliciting a detailed dietary history; and examination for signs and symptoms of nutritional deficiencies, malignancy, and other autoimmune diseases. Ideally, a team approach to the follow-up of the newly diagnosed patient should include regular supervision by an interested physician, medical nutritional counseling by a registered dietician, and access to local and national support groups knowledgeable about this condition.