Test accuracy of faecal calprotectin for inflammatory bowel disease in UK primary care: a retrospective cohort study of the IMRD-UK data

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Authors

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Warwick

Abstract

Objective
To estimate the test accuracy of faecal calprotectin (FC) for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in the primary care setting using routine electronic health records.

Design
Retrospective cohort test accuracy study.

Setting
UK primary care.

Participants
5970 patients (≥18 years) without a previous IBD diagnosis and with a first FC test between 1 January 2006 and 31 December 2016. We excluded multiple tests and tests without numeric results in units of µg/g.

Intervention
FC testing for the diagnosis of IBD. Disease status was confirmed by a recorded diagnostic code and/or a drug code of an IBD-specific medication at three time points after the FC test date.
Main outcome measures
Sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values for the differential of IBD versus non-IBD and IBD versus irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) at the 50 and 100 µg/g thresholds.

Results
5970 patients met the inclusion criteria and had at least 6 months of follow-up data after FC testing. 1897 had an IBS diagnosis, 208 had an IBD diagnosis, 31 had a colorectal cancer diagnosis, 80 had more than one diagnosis and 3754 had no subsequent diagnosis. Sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values were 92.9% (88.6% to 95.6%), 61.5% (60.2% to 62.7%), 8.1% (7.1% to 9.2%) and 99.6% (99.3% to 99.7%), respectively, at the threshold of 50 µg/g. Raising the threshold to 100 µg/g missed less than 7% additional IBD cases. Longer follow-up had no effect on test accuracy. Overall, uncertainty was greater for specificity than sensitivity. General practitioners’ (GPs’) referral decisions did not follow the anticipated clinical pathways in national guidance.

Conclusions
GPs can be confident in excluding IBD on the basis of a negative FC test in a population with low pretest risk but should interpret a positive test with caution. The applicability of national guidance to general practice needs to be improved.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere044177
JournalBMJ open
Volume11
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2021

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