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Fecal Calprotectin Testing

Differentiating Between
IBS and IBD

Canada has one of the highest incidence and prevalence rates of inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome in the world. With symptoms of these two conditions appearing similar, Fecal Calprotectin testing can provide an accurate diagnosis in many patients with chronic diarrhea without the need of doing invasive diagnostic procedures.

How is the test performed?

Stool sample

When will I get my results?

Results are available to your healthcare provider within two weeks.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have common symptoms that can make a true diagnosis difficult without a colonoscopy. Both conditions commonly present with diarrhea, abdominal bloating, and cramping. However the treatment of the conditions is very different.

IBS:
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition that affects the functioning of the large intestine. IBS does not change the bowel tissue, but it is a chronic condition that needs to be properly managed long-term. IBS symptoms are commonly controlled through lifestyle, diet and stress reduction and in more severe cases, medication and counseling.

IBD:
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is an umbrella term used to describe disorders that cause the chronic inflammation of your digestive tract, colon or rectum. Common types of IBD include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The symptoms of IBD can range from mild to debilitating and even life-threatening. IBD needs to be carefully managed and is commonly characterized by acute episodes followed by periods of remissions. 

When a person has inflammation of the bowel, a protein is released that produces calprotectin in the stool. The Fecal Calprotectin test measures the amount of calprotectin present. A high level of calprotectin can indicate IBD, whereas a lower level of calprotectin can indicate functional bowel disease such as IBS. Fecal calprotectin is an excellent tool to exclude IBD and avoid unnecessary referrals and colonoscopies.

You can develop IBS or IBD at any age. You should speak to your doctor if you experience persistent symptoms including:

  • Abdominal pain, cramping
  • diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Blood in your stool
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diminished appetite and weight loss
  • Fever
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue

Your healthcare provider may order a Fecal Calprotectin test if you have bloody or watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, with or without fever, lasting more than a few days.

Your healthcare provider may also order a Fecal Calprotectin test if you have already been diagnosed with IBD and wishes to monitor your condition.

You will need to obtain a collection container and bring a stool sample, along with a test requisition signed by your healthcare provider, to a LifeLabs Patient Service Centre. Collection containers are available at a Patient Service Centre near you. To complete the stool sample properly, please refer to the stool sample collection instructions.

 

Test results will be provided directly to your healthcare provider for discussion with you. The report will indicate the level of calprotectin present in the stool sample. A higher level of calprotectin may indicate inflammatory bowel disease and your physician may recommend a colonoscopy to confirm the diagnosis.

Fecal Calprotectin will help evaluate the level of intestinal inflammation and will differentiate between irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Elevated concentrations of fecal calprotectin may be useful in distinguishing IBD from functional gastrointestinal disorders, such as IBS. When used for this differential diagnosis, fecal calprotectin has sensitivity and specificity both of approximately 85%. People with IBD can use the Fecal Calprotectin Test to monitor disease activity and the effectiveness of their therapy.

The patient must obtain a collection container and provide a stool sample at any of LifeLabs Patient Service Centres. Patients must present a requisition form signed by a physician or healthcare provider.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) should be avoided for two (2) weeks prior to collection because they may cause an elevated result. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Salicylate (Aspirin)
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
  • Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)
  • COX-2 Inhibitors (Celebrex)

Fecal CalProtectin is currently an uninsured test.

The cost is:  $110

Payment may be made by the patient when dropping off the stool sample at one of LifeLabs Patient Service Centres. For convenience, Visa, Mastercard and Debit Cards are accepted.

Patients are encouraged to check with their private healthcare insurer to see if coverage is provided.

Results will be available to you within two weeks.

We have a wealth of medical experts available to support you in interpreting test results.
Consults with our experts are available upon request. Request medical consultation.

Request more information

Patients do not need to schedule an appointment time for a Fecal CalProtectin test, they simply need to drop off a stool sample as per the instructions, along with a completed requisition from their healthcare provider. Samples not accompanied by a requisition will not be accepted.

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