Introduction Coeliac disease (CD) is a frequent cause of secondary lactose malabsorption. Many methods are available for the diagnosis of lactose malabsorption. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of lactose malabsorption in individuals with CD, as well as symptom correlation with test results.
Methods Patients were prospectively recruited between February 2018 and October 2019. Individuals with a potential new diagnosis of CD (positive IgA-EMA/IgA-TTG) or established CD had a duodenal biopsy to assess for lactose malabsorption (Lactose Intolerance Quick Test [LIQT], BIOHIT Oyj, Helsinki, Finland) at time of gastroscopy. Subsequent to this, individuals had a lactose hydrogen breath test (LHBT). Symptoms around the time of gastroscopy were assessed, to allow assessment of symptom correlation with lactose malabsorption (e.g. abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea, borborygmi).
Results 97 patients were prospectively recruited; out of these 24 had a LHBT suggestive of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and were excluded. Of the remaining 73 patients (n= 54 female, median age = 47 years), 50 patients had a potential new diagnosis of CD and 23 had established CD. The total prevalence of a positive duodenal lactase test was 43.8%, compared to 15.1% for a positive LHBT. The prevalence of lactose malabsorption was significantly higher in individuals with villous atrophy compared to those without, when using the duodenal lactase test (p<0.01). Table 1 highlights the prevalence of lactose malabsorption in each group. There was no significant correlation between symptoms compatible with lactose intolerance detected by either LHBT or duodenal lactase test (p=1.00).
Conclusions The prevalence of lactose malabsorption was higher in individuals with CD using the lactase test compared to the LHBT. The prevalence of lactose malabsorption was significantly higher in those with villous atrophy (VA) compared to those without. Although symptom correlation was poor there may be value in using LIQT when assessing CD patients with persisting symptoms.
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