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Celiac Disease Complications

Ulcerative Jejunoileitis

Ulcerative jejunoileitis is a rare complication of celiac disease. In ulcerative jejunoileitis there are recurrent episodes of small intestinal ulcerations and formation of strictures (narrowing of the intestinal lumen). Small intestinal ulcerations and stricture formation can lead to intestinal bleeding, weight loss, abdominal pain, and intestinal obstruction. Patients with ulcerative jejunoileitis are at high risk of developing intestinal lymphomas. The diagnosis of ulcerative jejunoileitis is made by enteroclysis of the small intestine, enteroscopy, or CT scan of the abdomen. Treatment involves a gluten-free diet and surgical removal of the most diseased portions of the small intestine. The prognosis is poor; long-term survival for patients with ulcerative jejunoileitis beyond five years is less than 50%.

Collagenous Celiac Disease

Collagenous celiac disease is a rare, but serious complication of celiac disease in which a patient may have the symptoms of celiac disease initially, but they fail to improve on a gluten-free diet, and after several years a large amount of scar tissue (collagen) forms just under the intestinal lining. There is no treatment for collagenous celiac disease, and the prognosis is poor.

Reducing Cancer Risk With Celiac Disease

Some doctors believe that strict adherence to a gluten-free diet can reduce the risk of cancer in patients with celiac disease, but further studies are needed to prove this. Until more is known in this area, patients with celiac disease should adhere strictly to a gluten-free diet.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on November 21, 2013
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