Patients with chronic intestinal damage are more likely to break a hip than patients whose intestines have healed, according to a new study by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center and the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.
Previous research has shown that fractures are more common in people with celiac disease, compared with the general population, because of a connection between celiac and osteoporosis.
The new study looked more closely within a group of celiac patients to see if fracture rate is related to the degree of intestinal damage. The findings will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
In the study, intestinal damage was assessed by biopsy within five years of initial diagnosis.
“Physicians have debated whether people with celiac disease actually benefit from a follow-up biopsy to determine the level of tissue healing taking place. These findings suggest a follow-up biopsy can be useful for predicting complications down the road,”
said study co-author Benjamin Lebwohl, MD, Herbert Irving Assistant Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, in a press release from the Endocrine Society.
Dr. Lebwohl also found, in a study published last year, that patients with intestinal damage have a higher risk of lymphoma than the general population, but that the risk decreases as the intestines heal.
The reason why intestinal damage persists in many celiac patients has been unclear, with some researchers suggesting that a slow rate of healing may be to blame. But in a separate study published this week, Dr. Lebwohl and his colleagues found that poor adherence to a gluten-free diet is likely a significant factor.