A new type of quick and pain free test has been introduced into GP practices across Bury, reducing the need for some patients presenting with digestive problems to have invasive tests at hospital.

The new ‘Faecal Calprotectin’ test checks for levels of a protein called Calprotectin in the gut. The protein is present in a stool sample when there is inflammation present.

The test is used where a patient presents at their GP practice with symptoms that might suggest they have inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome.

The test involves the examination of a stool sample, the sample is taken by the patient in the comfort of their own home and dropped back into the surgery for onward testing.   The results of the test are usually available within a week and will give the GP an indication of the likely diagnosis, to help plan the patients care in a timely way.

If Calprotectin protein is detected in the stool sample, this could suggest that the patient has inflammatory bowel disease* which would require further tests at hospital.  Tests may include a colonoscopy, an test which involves the insertion of a small tube with a camera into the patient’s back passage.

Where the Calprotectin protein is not detected, it is more likely that the patient has irritable bowel syndrome, and in this case, the patient can receive immediate advice on the best ways to manage their symptoms, without the need for further invasive tests at hospital.

The new test is quick, cost effective and results in better patient experience by avoiding unnecessary invasive tests where possible, and for those patients that do require further investigation, waiting times should be reduced.

Dr. Daniel Cooke, local GP and Clinical Lead for Elective Care at NHS Bury Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:

“Until recently, a hospital referral for a colonoscopy was the main approach GPs would need to take to diagnose and distinguish between inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome.  The new test offers us a much more efficient way to diagnose digestive problems quickly, and more accurately identify which patients would benefit from further tests in hospital, and those that we can support to manage their symptoms without further investigations.”

“The new test is good news for GPs, as it helps us to make a diagnosis more quickly and provide the patient with the most appropriate care, it is also good for patients as they will only go on to have further potentially invasive tests where absolutely necessary.”


Note to editors: * If Calprotectin protein is detected in the stool sample, which could suggest that the patient has inflammatory bowel disease then the patient’s GP is likely to rerun the test to ensure that the results are not a one off or as a result of medication, before referring to hospital test.

Date: 12th October 2018