Faecal calprotectin testing is recommended by NICE as an option to help doctors distinguish between inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, and non-inflammatory bowel diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Faecal calprotectin is a substance that is released into the intestines in excess when there is any inflammation there. Its presence can mean a person has an inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. These conditions can cause very similar symptoms to irritable bowel syndrome. But, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can also cause symptoms serious enough for major surgery to be needed, so it’s important to distinguish between them and irritable bowel syndrome.

Many people with irritable bowel syndrome have unnecessary invasive hospital investigations before their condition is diagnosed. Using faecal calprotectin testing will mean most people with irritable bowel syndrome will be diagnosed without the need for these investigations.

Your responsibility

This guidance represents the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, healthcare professionals are expected to take this guidance fully into account. However, the guidance does not override the individual responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or guardian or carer.

Commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to implement the guidance, in their local context, in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity, and foster good relations. Nothing in this guidance should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

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