Imperial Collage Healthcare
30 November

Introduction of faecal calprotectin as a new biochemical investigation at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

The faecal biomarker calprotectin is a neutrophil derived protein that is stable in faeces and can be detected by quantitative ELISA in small stool samples. During intestinal inflammation the protein is quickly released into the gut from where it can be quantified within faeces.

Abdominal pain and diarrhoea are common presenting symptoms to gastroenterology clinics. Without ‘red flag’ or specific localising symptoms the diagnostic spectrum is wide, from IBD and colonic cancer to functional diarrhoea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Patients are often subjected to colonoscopy and/or radiological imaging. Faecalcalprotectin has been studied with an aim of separating those patients with inflammatory organic pathology from those with non-inflammatory functional pathology, thereby potentially avoiding the need for more invasive tests.

Usefulness of Calprotectin measurement:

·      Faecal calprotectin is a marker for gastrointestinal inflammation and is consistent with a diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis or carcinoma.

·       A positive result can be used to enhance the decision to perform a diagnostic colonoscopy.

·       A negative result can be used to exclude inflammatory bowel disease and suggest a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome and avoid the need for an invasive colonoscopy.

·       Serial testing of patients with a positive diagnosis can detect relapse before clinical symptoms and can save in hospital admissions and in patient morbidity


The Clinical Biochemistry Department is currently evaluating the method and it is expected that we will be able to offer the assay to all users in early December 2013. Further information regarding collection, storage and transport of samples will be communicated when the go live date is confirmed.

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