Author(s): van Rheenen PF, Van de Vijver E, Fidler V
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: To evaluate whether including a test for faecal calprotectin, a sensitive marker of intestinal inflammation, in the investigation of suspected inflammatory bowel disease reduces the number of unnecessary endoscopic procedures. DESIGN: Meta-analysis of diagnostic accuracy studies. DATA SOURCES: Studies published in Medline and Embase up to October 2009. Interventions reviewed Measurement of faecal calprotectin level (index test) compared with endoscopy and histopathology of segmental biopsy samples (reference standard). Inclusion criteria Studies that had collected data prospectively in patients with suspected inflammatory bowel disease and allowed for construction of a two by two table. For each study, sensitivity and specificity of faecal calprotectin were analysed as bivariate data to account for a possible negative correlation within studies. RESULTS: 13 studies were included: six in adults (n=670), seven in children and teenagers (n=371). Inflammatory bowel disease was confirmed by endoscopy in 32\% (n=215) of the adults and 61\% (n=226) of the children and teenagers. In the studies of adults, the pooled sensitivity and pooled specificity of calprotectin was 0.93 (95\% confidence interval 0.85 to 0.97) and 0.96 (0.79 to 0.99) and in the studies of children and teenagers was 0.92 (0.84 to 0.96) and 0.76 (0.62 to 0.86). The lower specificity in the studies of children and teenagers was significantly different from that in the studies of adults (P=0.048). Screening by measuring faecal calprotectin levels would result in a 67\% reduction in the number of adults requiring endoscopy. Three of 33 adults who undergo endoscopy will not have inflammatory bowel disease but may have a different condition for which endoscopy is inevitable. The downside of this screening strategy is delayed diagnosis in 6\% of adults because of a false negative test result. In the population of children and teenagers, 65 instead of 100 would undergo endoscopy. Nine of them will not have inflammatory bowel disease, and diagnosis will be delayed in 8\% of the affected children. CONCLUSION: Testing for faecal calprotectin is a useful screening tool for identifying patients who are most likely to need endoscopy for suspected inflammatory bowel disease. The discriminative power to safely exclude inflammatory bowel disease was significantly better in studies of adults than in studies of children.
This article was published in BMJ
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology