A simple screening test identifies patients most likely to have inflammatory bowel disease and cuts the need for invasive endoscopies, according to a recent study.
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Rates of inflammatory bowel disease are rising in both adults and children, and symptoms of variants such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, rectal bleeding and weight loss.
An endoscopy is an expensive and time-consuming procedure that involves passing a camera on the end of a flexible tube through the rectum to examine the bowel. A diagnosis is generally made by taking small tissue samples (biopsies), but for many patients the results are negative.
Researchers in the Netherlands set out to determine whether faecal calprotectin can serve as a screening test to limit the number of people undergoing invasive endoscopy.
They analysed the results of studies on 670 adults and 371 children comparing faecal calprotectin with endoscopy in patients with suspected inflammatory bowel disease, and inflammatory bowel disease was confirmed in 32% of adults and 61% of children
Despite some differences in the design and quality of the studies, the team concluded that faecal calprotectin is a useful test for identifying patients most likely to need endoscopic evaluation.