Faecal Calprotectin

Faecal calprotectin is a modern and les known gastroenterological examination. However, its importance gradually increases in diagnostics of the non-infectious inflammatory bowel diseases.

Principle

The examination of faecal calprotectin is a type of laboratory stool examination. Faecal calprotectin is a protein, which is located within the white blood cells. Logically, the concentration of calprotectin in faeces is directly proportional to the severity of intestinal wall's inflammation. The more calprotectin is detected, the more white blood cells are present in the intestinal wall.

Indications

The examination of faecal calprotectin is important in diagnosis of non-infectious inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. If one has digestive problems, normal value of calprotectin in faeces is rather typical for  gastrointestinal  functional problems (e.g. irritable bowel syndrome). Increased value of calprotectin is typical for inflammation and in such case it is advisable to perform a colonoscopy or other tests. In addition, in already diagnosed and treated inflammatory bowel diseases, the amount of calprotectin informs us about the therapeutic effect and relapses of the disease. It was reported that a sudden increase of calprotectin in a patient with dormant Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis is an important marker of a near outbreak with clinical deterioration.

Disadvantages

Examination of faecal calprotectin is just an indirect test, which may be falsely positive. Increased calprotectin may be present not only in inflammatory bowel diseases, but also in  colon cancer, infectious inflammation of the intestines and diverticulitis. Another disadvantage is a lower availability of the method.

Advantages

The main advantage is that the examination method is a non-invasive test, we only need a stool sample. Fecal calprotectin can become very useful in both diagnosis and monitoring of non-infectious inflammatory bowel diseases and it may reduce the overall number of colonoscopies performed in a patient with IBD.