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How is an intestinal biopsy used to diagnose celiac disease?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

An intestinal biopsy is used to retrieve tissue from your small intestines to be examined in order to diagnose celiac disease. An endoscope is an instrument with a camera and a long tube and it is snaked down your throat through your stomach and into your intestines. When it reaches the small intestine an instrument is threaded through the tube and used to take samples of the tissue that lines your small intestine. You are normally sedated for this procedure.


Once the doctor has the samples of tissue, he places them under a microscope to check for damage to the villi. Villi are the hair-like strands that coat the wall of the small intestine and absorb nutrients from your food into your bloodstream. If the biopsy is positive for damage to the villi, then the intestinal biopsy has confirmed your doctor's diagnosis of celiac disease.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.