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Screening cuts need for endoscopy

A pre-screening method could reduce the number of patients needing to undergo invasive endoscopies during diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a study has found.

Dutch researchers carried out the study to investigate whether faecal calprotectin can be used as a screening test for IBD, reducing the need for patients to undergo sometimes painful endoscopies that have a varying success rate.

By pre-screening patients using the test, doctors could limit the number of people having to undergo the procedure, which involves the passing of a camera mounted on a flexible tube through the rectum in order to examine the bowel.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), found that faecal calprotectin was a useful indicator of whether a patient was likely to need an endoscopy evaluation during diagnosis.

After analysing the results of six adult and seven child studies comparing faecal calprotectin with endoscopy in patients with suspected IBD, the research team found that the condition was confirmed in 32% of the adults and 61% of the children.

The main types of IBD in the UK are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, which can cause abdominal pain, diarrhoea, rectal bleeding and weight loss in sufferers.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

British Medical Journal

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"This would be an absolute godsend. My son was diagnosed in 2005 and his bowel was in a terrible state due to the length of time it took doctors to realise he had something serious. They then decided to do an endoscopy with his bowel in that state and the pain was unbearable. Any development that simplifies any procedure for these patients is great!" - Irene O'Sullivan, London