Calprotectin is a protein biomarker that is present in the faeces when intestinal inflammation occurs. Faecal calprotectin testing is helping to improve patient care and save money for the NHS. It prevents the need for unnecessary endoscopy procedures on many patients by screening out those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
The symptoms of functional disorders such as IBS and organic Inflammatory Intestinal Disease (IBD) can be very similar in presentation but are two very different medical conditions.
Historically, clinical gastroenterologists have had to use invasive endoscopy to differentially diagnose between these conditions. NICE [DG11] now recommends the use of faecal calprotectin analysis, as a first-line test, in patients presenting with gastrointestinal symptoms indicative of IBS or IBD. The test can rule out IBD and avoid the need for IBS patients to undergo endoscopy. This prevents patient stress, shortens waiting lists and cuts costs.
Calprotectin is also shown to be of value in the ongoing assessment of known IBD patients, with the biomarker concentration reflecting mucosal healing or potential relapse.
Inflammatory bowel disease is a group of inflammatory conditions of the colon and small intestine. The major types of IBD are Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis.