AIMS--To determine if a clinically important polymorphonuclear leucocyte infiltrate and surface gastric epithelial metaplasia occur in the second part of the duodenum in coeliac disease; to evaluate the utility of these morphological criteria in the differential diagnosis of coeliac disease and peptic duodenitis. METHODS--49 mucosal biopsy specimens of the second part of the duodenum reported as showing inflammation were reviewed. Sections were prepared with haematoxylin and eosin, periodic acid Schiff, and Warthin-Starry stains. Clinical presentation, outcome, and immunological investigations were assessed. RESULTS--Four cases confirmed as coeliac disease on clinical and immunological grounds showed acute inflammation and surface epithelial gastric metaplasia. Increased intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs) were found in each of the four. CONCLUSIONS--Clinically important polymorphonuclear leucocyte infiltration and surface epithelial gastric metaplasia may occur in the duodenal mucosa in coeliac disease and should not be used as diagnostic features to exclude the diagnosis of coeliac disease in the absence of confirmatory clinical and immunological information.
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