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New Technique Diagnoses Celiac Within Minutes

Could diagnosing celiac now be as simple as a finger prick?

Researchers at the University of Grenada in Spain have developed a minimally invasive blood test for celiac disease. The test, a finger prick that works in conjunction with a testing strip, is similar in principle to the finger prick/test strip method used by diabetics to monitor glucose levels. 

Currently, the testing system for celiac is fairly cumbersome and involves several steps: presenting to your doctor with symptoms, a celiac blood panel testing for antibodies to gluten, and a small intestine biopsy to confirm a positive blood test. This system of course misses quite a lot of people, as the first step in the diagnostic process is showing the common symptoms connected to celiac disease. 

The primary researcher, a pediatrician at the health center in Maracena (Grenada), was inspired by her adolescent patients to develop this testing method. She wondered if there may be a sigificant number of children with silent or latent celiac disease who may go undiagnosed.

Why is Latent Celiac Disease Dangerous? 

"Latent" or "silent" celiac disease refers to those individuals who have celiac disease but have no obvious pronounced symptoms. For some people, especially those in the beginning stages of the illness, there are no symptoms for celiac disease even while the damage is already occuring. These individuals run the risk of developing full-blown celiac disease later in life, and along with it possible irreversible complications of untreated celiac such as bowel cancer, infertility and other autoimmune diseases. The health ramifications of untreated celiac disease make getting an early and accurate diagnosis critical, even before symptoms present themselves. 

The Research Study:


the study

, 198 children ages two to four years were assessed for celiac disease. The test strip method was able to accurately detect six children as celiac disease positive. To confirm celiac disease in those children, further testing was conducted, including endoscopy and biopsy of the small intestine. None of the children exhibited detectable symptoms of celiac disease at the time.  

How Does the Test Work?

A puncture in the finger is enough to take a little drop of blood, which is then put into the device and, in the case the subject suffers from the disease, a pink line will appear on the strip similar to that of a pregnancy test. A pink line appearing means that there are auto-antibodies characteristic to celiac disease present in the blood. 

What this Means for Celiac Disease Testing:

In clinical trials, the test proved to be highly accurate as well as cost-effective (one test costs around $10). It also requires no special expertise to administer. While this won't necessarily identify people with a "gluten intolerance," this rapid test could be a game changer in catching the people who are at risk of serious, long-term damage from eating gluten, and getting them the care that they need before their health is permanently affected. It could also prove to be especially beneficial when testing children, as it presents a less invasive alternative for obtaining a blood sample. 

That said, while results show the finger prick method as having a high accuracy rate, the test unfortunately cannot be used in place of a traditional celiac diagnosis. Researchers note that a positive result on the test is only the first step in the diagnosis of celiac disease. Patients who test positive on the finger prick test would then need the celiac antibody blood test and an endoscopy for confirmation. A negative test result would allow doctors to rule out celiac disease without having to continue with additional testing measures. 

The finger prick test provides promise as a super convenient screening measure for celiac disease!


Learn more about supplements for people with Celiac and gluten-sensitivity.


Barbara Griffin:

Do we have access to this testing procedure?

Oct 16, 2016


This is great! I suppose we have no idea when the test will be available in the US?

Oct 10, 2016

Karina Ruiz-Diaz:

Thanks for the information. However, is this test already available? If so, how do I go about getting it prescribed or even what is the name of this test… could it be bought over the counter? Please advise thank you.

Oct 10, 2016

Amanda Yoder:

What was the false positive rate that means this cannot be used to give an actual diagnosis? I think it’s important we find a non-invasive method (the biopsy keeps so many from an actual diagnosis—understandably so)!

Oct 10, 2016


Is this testing available in the US?? I have Celiac disease myself and want to know if my children are at risk as well… My son is 3yrs old and my daughter is only 1yr. When would it be possible to get this done on them?


Oct 10, 2016


Does it work if the person is already following a gluten-free diet?

Oct 10, 2016

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