Xanthomas seen on capsule endoscopy: What are they saying about your patient’s health?

Saturday, February 2nd, 2019

Background: There is long-standing evidence of an association between cutaneous xanthomas and underlying lipid metabolism disorders, impaired glucose tolerance, secondary hyperlipoproteinemia and diabetes mellitus. Since the advent of capsule endoscopy (CE), substantial numbers of endoscopies have shown evidence of small bowel xanthomas. These have unknown significance to the patient and, consequently, are not routinely reported when identified. Our research is the first study to investigate the significance of small bowel xanthomas identified on CE with underlying lipid disorders or diabetes mellitus.

Methods: 54 patients participated in this prospective cohort study. We recorded patients’ demographic details, medical history, medication list, height, weight, and waist circumference measurements. A blood sample for fasting lipids, fasting glucose and HbA1c was collected. A blinded gastroenterologist reported whether xanthomas were present and quantified the number of xanthomas.

Results: 37% of participants had small bowel xanthomas visualised during CE. The presence of xanthomas was associated with a previous diagnosis of hyperlipidaemia currently treated with anti-lipid medication (IRR 4.43; 95%CI 1.32 to 14.9; p=0.048) and was also associated with increasing units of alcohol consumption (IRR 1.91; 95%CI 1.32 to 2.78; p=0.0007).

Conclusion: This demonstrates an association between the presence of small bowel xanthomas with hyperlipidaemia, mainly in patients with hyperlipidaemia controlled by medication. We also detected an association between small bowel xanthomas and increased alcohol intake. The presence of small bowel xanthomas might trigger lipid evaluation, in future clinical practice.

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