ROLE OF LABS

Modified: February 4, 2020

Dear @[email protected],

 

Your doctor has discussed the following subject with you: the role of blood and stool tests to monitor disease activity in inflammatory bowel disease. Here is additional information for you. Let us know if you have any questions regarding this information.

  • It is common for gastroenterologists to monitor patient symptoms at regular intervals, since symptoms can indicate active inflammation.

  • However, in some circumstances, symptoms may not necessarily reflect active inflammation. Some people with active small intestinal Crohn's disease, for example, may experience no symptoms for long periods of time.  Other people with healed intestines with ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease may have symptoms (such as diarrhea or abdominal pain) that may be due to other causes.

  • In addition to symptoms, gastroenterologists monitor disease activity in inflammatory bowel disease and aim to heal the intestine of ulcers or inflammation.

  • Tests for monitoring disease activity can include colonoscopy, CT scans, or MRI scans. However, there are also noninvasive tests that can allow a gastroenterologist to monitor disease activity.

  1. C-reactive Protein: This is a blood test that can reflect active inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. It can be normalized with medical treatment and elevations can predict an upcoming flare. 

  2. Calprotectin: This is a stool test that can reflect active inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, especially the colon. It can normalize with healing of the lining of the GI tract and elevations can also predict an upcoming flare. 

  3. Hemoglobin and iron studies: Patients with active inflammatory bowel disease may have some loss of blood and iron through ulcers in the GI tract. Blood tests for hemoglobin and iron labs can confirm continued healing or, if they start to decrease, may suggest active disease.

  4. Albumin: Patients with active inflammatory bowel disease may have some loss of protein in the GI tract, along with malnutrition. The blood test for albumin can also confirm continued healing or, if it starts to decrease, may suggest active disease.

  5. Sedimentation Rate: This is a blood test that can reflect active inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. It can be normalized with medical treatment and elevations can predict an upcoming flare.  This blood test if used less frequently as it does not predict inflammation as well as other tests. 

    For further information, please check out www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org or follow this link:

    PDF https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/sites/default/files/2020-03/diagnosing-monitoring-ibd-brochure-final-rev062518.pdf