Both the clinical presentation and the degree of mucosal damage in coeliac disease vary greatly. In view of conflicting information as to whether the mode of presentation correlates with the degree of villous atrophy, we reviewed a large cohort of patients with coeliac disease.
We correlated mode of presentation (classical, diarrhoea predominant or atypical/silent) with histology of duodenal biopsies and examined their trends over time.
The cohort consisted of 499 adults, mean age 44.1 years, 68% females. The majority had silent coeliac disease (56%) and total villous atrophy (65%). There was no correlation of mode of presentation with the degree of villous atrophy (p=0.25). Sixty-eight percent of females and 58% of males had a severe villous atrophy (p=0.052). There was a significant trend over time for a greater proportion of patients presenting as atypical/silent coeliac disease and having partial villous atrophy, though the majority still had total villous atrophy.
Among our patients the degree of villous atrophy in duodenal biopsies did not correlate with the mode of presentation, indicating that factors other than the degree of villous atrophy must account for diarrhoea in coeliac disease.