Does this test have other names?
What is this test?
This test looks for certain antibodies in your blood that may mean you have celiac
disease, an autoimmune disease.
If you have celiac disease, your immune system responds abnormally to a protein called
gluten. Gluten is found in wheat, barley, and rye products. Your body makes antibodies
to the gluten called endomysial antibodies (EMA). These autoantibodies cause intestinal
swelling and, if undetected, can damage the intestinal walls, including the lining
of your small intestine. They can also keep your body from fully absorbing nutrients
from food. Chronic swelling and increasing damage to the small intestine leads to
malnutrition, among other problems.
Why do I need this test?
You may have this test if your healthcare provider suspects that you have celiac disease.
Signs and symptoms of celiac disease include:
Repeated abdominal (belly) pain and bloating
Pale, foul smelling or fatty stool
Excessive intestinal gas
Mood disorders, including depression
Itchy skin rash
Bone and joint pain
In children, signs and symptoms may also include:
Light colored, fatty stools
Irritability or change in mood
Problems with dental enamel in permanent teeth
What other tests might I have along with this test?
Your healthcare provider may also order other blood tests to look for:
Anti-tissue transglutaminase, or tTG, antibodies
Anti-deaminated gliadin peptides
Blood cell counts
Your healthcare provider may also test you for an immunoglobulin A (IgA) deficiency.
If you have this deficiency, it will make it harder to get a clear result on your
antibody test. Instead, the lab will use a different class of tests.
Your healthcare provider may also order genetic testing. Genetic testing can't diagnose
celiac disease, but it can determine that you don't have it.
If any of the tests show that you may have celiac disease, your healthcare provider
will most likely order a biopsy of your intestine to get a more complete picture of
In children younger than 2 years, the healthcare provider may also order a test to
look for anti-gliadin antibodies.
What do my test results mean?
Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses
to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you
may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your healthcare
Normal results are negative, meaning that no EMA antibodies were found in your blood.
If your levels of IgA EMA and tTG antibodies are higher, it may mean that you have
celiac disease. If you also have typical symptoms and respond to a gluten-free diet,
you will likely be diagnosed with celiac disease.
How is this test done?
The test requires a blood sample, which is drawn through a needle from a vein in your
Does this test pose any risks?
Taking a blood sample with a needle carries risks that include bleeding, infection,
bruising, or feeling dizzy. When the needle pricks your arm, you may feel a slight
stinging sensation or pain. Afterward, the site may be slightly sore.
What might affect my test results?
Not eating gluten will affect your results.
How do I get ready for this test?
You must be on a diet that contains gluten for at least four weeks before this test.
See your healthcare provider for specific diet instructions.