Background: Although the prevalence of celiac disease in the USA approaches 1%, most cases are undiagnosed, in part, because of low adherence to the recommendation of submitting at least four specimens during duodenal biopsy. We aimed to determine whether physician and practice characteristics are associated with adherence to this recommendation.
Materials and methods: We used a large national pathology database to identify all adult patients who underwent duodenal biopsy during 2006–2009. Hierarchical modeling was used to determine whether procedure volume, the number of gastroenterologists per endoscopy suite, and the number of gastroenterologists per capita of the zip code of the practice were associated with adherence.
Results: We identified 92 580 patients (67% female, mean age 53.5 years) who met our inclusion/exclusion criteria. Specimens were submitted by 669 gastroenterologists from 200 endoscopy suites, located in 191 zip codes, with a mean of 3.4 gastroenterologists per suite. On multivariate analysis, a higher procedure volume was associated with a decreased adherence [odds ratio (OR) for each additional 100 procedures, 0.92; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.88–0.97; P=0.002]. An increased adherence was reported for gastroenterologists working at suites with higher numbers of gastroenterologists (OR for each additional gastroenterologist, 1.08; 95% CI, 1.04–1.13; P<0.001) but not for a higher gastroenterologist density in the zip code of the practice (OR for each additional gastroenterologist per capita, 1.01; 95% CI, 0.99–1.03; P=0.21).
Conclusion: High-volume physicians exhibit lower rates of adherence to biopsy guidelines, possibly because of the additional time required to submit at least four specimens. In contrast, a greater number of endoscopists working in an endoscopy suite are associated with an increased adherence, possibly because of peer education.