Stool calprotectin testing 'can identify IBD patients'

Levels of the protein calprotectin can identify patients at risk of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a meta-analysis suggests.

Inflammatory bowel disease: faecal calprotectin is a useful marker (Photograph: SPL)
Inflammatory bowel disease: faecal calprotectin is a useful marker (Photograph: SPL)

Researchers looked at whether measuring faecal levels of calprotectin, which is known to be a sensitive marker of intestinal inflammation, could reduce the number of people undergoing endoscopy to diagnose IBD.

Dr Patrick van Rheenen and colleagues from the University Medical Center in Groningen, the Netherlands, examined 13 studies involving 1,041 patients.

Their findings suggest that screening using faecal calprotectin would result in a 67 per cent reduction in the number of adults requiring endoscopy.

However, the test would miss some cases of IBD, and thereby lead to delayed diagnosis in 6 per cent of adults.

For children and teenagers, the test would lead to a 35 per cent reduction in those requiring endoscopy to diagnose IBD.

The researchers concluded: 'Measuring faecal calprotectin levels is a useful screening tool for identifying patients who are most likely to need endoscopy for suspected IBD.'

But, they added: 'The discriminative power to safely exclude the disease (specificity) is significantly better in studies of adults than in studies of children and teenagers.'

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