The confounding mystery of sprue look-alikes
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic had a medical mystery on their hands in 2009. A number of their patients were suffering from severe, chronic diarrhea and profound weight loss. Some had lost 20 to 30 pounds in a matter of weeks. When doctors peered inside the patients intestines, their villithe fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, aiding in absorption of nutrients and calorieswere flattened or nearly flattened (villous atrophy). But the patients didnt have key antibodies seen in celiac disease and treatment with the gluten-free diet didnt help. It wasnt celiac disease but something closely mimicking it.