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Revista Española de Enfermedades Digestivas

Print version ISSN 1130-0108


LOBO, B. et al. Usefulness of jejunal biopsy in the study of intestinal malabsorption in the elderly. Rev. esp. enferm. dig. [online]. 2004, vol.96, n.4, pp.259-264. ISSN 1130-0108.

Background: small bowel structure and function are not different between elderly people and young people. Thus, in principle it is advisable to perform diagnostic investigation of elderly patients as well as younger patients when they present with symptoms suggestive of intestinal malabsorption. A key test for the etiologic diagnosis of intestinal malabsorption, jejunal biopsy, has not been specifically examined to assess its usefulness and risk of complications in this advanced age patients. Aim: to establish the usefulness of jejunal biopsy with the Watson's capsule in the elderly patients with suspected intestinal malabsorption. Patients: patients older than 65 years referred to our Unit for performance of a jejunal biopsy from 1996 to 2001 for suspicion of intestinal malabsorption. Results: forty-seven patients were included. Appropriate biopsy sample was obtained in 45 cases, although in 3 patients a second try was required. Histologic findings: partial villous atrophy in 10 cases (22.2%), complete villous atrophy in 5 cases (11.1%), intraepithelial lymphocytosis in 5 cases (11.1%), and single cases of intestinal lymphangiectasia, amyloidosis, unspecific jejunitis, and Whipple's disease. Histology was normal in 19 cases (42%). Definitive diagnosis was celiac disease in 14 patients, bacterial overgrowth in 3, jejunitis in 3, Whipple's disease in 1, lymphangiectasia in 1, atrophic gastritis in 3, amyloidosis in 1, and ischemic colitis in 1. Jejunal biopsy achieved an etiologic diagnosis in 20 patients. There were no cases of perforations or bleeding. Conclusion: jejunal biopsy is a useful and safe test for the etiologic diagnosis of intestinal malabsorption in elderly patients.

Keywords : Intestinal malabsorption; Elderly; Jejunal biopsy; Hydrogen breath test; Xylose test; Intestinal biopsy; Biopsy complications.

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