Fecal calprotectin: its scope and utility in the management of inflammatory bowel disease
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Gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, dyspepsia, and diarrhea are relatively nonspecific and a common cause for seeking medical attention. To date, it is challenging for physicians to differentiate between functional and organic gastrointestinal conditions and it involves the use of serological and endoscopic techniques. Therefore, a simple, noninvasive, inexpensive, and effective test would be of utmost importance in clinical practice. Fecal calprotectin (FC) is considered to be a reliable biomarker that fulfills these criteria. FC can detect intestinal inflammation, and its level correlates well with macroscopic and histological inflammation as detected by colonoscopy and biopsies, respectively. FC has a decent diagnostic accuracy for differentiating organic diseases and functional disorders because of its excellent negative predictive value in ruling out inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in symptomatic undiagnosed patients. There is accumulating evidence that FC has been effectively used to monitor the natural course of IBD, to predict relapse, and to see the response to treatment. This novel biomarker has the ability to assess mucosal healing (MH), which is a therapeutic goal in IBD management. A literature search was carried out using PubMed with the keywords FC, IBD, intestinal inflammation, and MH. In our review, we provide an overview of the utility and scope of FC as a biomarker in patients with IBD as well as undiagnosed patients with lower gastrointestinal symptoms.
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