The role of routine endoscopic duodenal biopsies obtained during the evaluation of iron deficiency anaemia is being increasingly emphasized, but insufficiently applied. Diagnostic yield of this practice, mainly identification of coeliac disease, differs in different populations and geographic regions. The aim of this study is to assess the usefulness of routine duodenal biopsies during upper endoscopy in patients presenting with iron deficiency anaemia in Western Anatolia.
Routine duodenal biopsies were evaluated over a 12-month period in 100 consecutive adult patients with iron deficiency anaemia undergoing upper endoscopy. All potential bleeding lesions were identified and gastric as well as duodenal biopsies were taken for histopathologic investigation.
A bleeding lesion is identified in 44% of cases. Duodenal biopsy gives an additional 5% diagnostic yield and revealed three patients with coeliac disease and two patients with giardiasis. One of the patients diagnosed with coeliac disease had a second bleeding lesion at the upper endoscopic examination. Appearance of the duodenal mucosa was normal in all patients including those with diagnostic duodenal biopsy.
Routine duodenal sampling during the upper endoscopic examination gives an additional 5% diagnostic benefit and this practice should be included in the diagnostic work-up of patients with iron deficiency anaemia. As one of the patients who was found to have coeliac disease had a second bleeding lesion that may otherwise explain iron deficiency anaemia, finding a source for bleeding at the upper endoscopy should not preclude duodenal biopsy. Moreover, performing duodenal biopsy is still necessary even though the endoscopic appearance of the mucosa is normal. Aside from coeliac disease, Giardia infestation could be identified as a contributory factor for iron deficiency anaemia, in endemic regions.