Recently, a reader contacted me inquiring about a celiac disease blood test a doctor ordered for her about ten years ago. At the time she tested negative and stopped pursuing the possibility of having celiac disease. After I researched the test, I informed her she should discuss a new test with a new doctor. Here’s why.
According to a recent study conducted by the Department of pathology of the University of Utah, a formerly common blood test for detecting celiac disease should now be considered obsolete. Access the study here: Testing for Antireticulin Antibodies in Patients with Celiac Disease Is Obsolete
The test looked for antireticulin antibodies (ARA). This study concluded that several other blood tests provide more consistent, specific and sensitive tests. The tests they believe now supersede the ARA screening include the following:
- Deamidated Gliadin Peptides (DGP)
- IgA Endomysial Antibodies (EMA)
- tgG Tissue Transglutaminase Antibodies (tTG)
Keep in mind the effectiveness of different tests is measured by specificity and sensitivity. Specificity is defined by what possible conditions can cause a positive result for a test, and sensitivity is defined by how often a test identifies people with a condition.
Right now there is no 100 percent specific and 100 percent sensitive test for celiac disease, but the EMA test is considered to be nearly 100 percent specific and about 90 percent sensitive. A good, comprehensive doctor will test for all three of these antibodies before coming to a confident conclusion or prescribing a biopsy for further testing. For more on this read my lesson on Gluten Intolerance Testing.
The important part of this new fact is this: Like the woman I mentioned at the beginning of this post, it is possible some of you may have tested negative for celiac disease a while ago when the ARA was a widely accepted way to screen for celiac disease. If that is the case, I encourage you to seek further testing with a more modern and refined blood screening for celiac disease.
Celiac disease is not easy to diagnose, which is why millions of people with celiac disease walk around undiagnosed. For more on determining your risk for the condition, see my celiac disease checklist.