Clinical utility of serodiagnostic testing in suspected pediatric inflammatory bowel disease

Am J Gastroenterol. 2001 Mar;96(3):758-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2001.03618.x.


Objectives: Confronted with nonspecific symptoms, accurate screening tests would be useful to clinicians to distinguish between functional childhood disorders and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), thus avoiding invasive diagnostic testing. Traditional ulcerative colitis-specific perinuclear antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (pANCA) and Crohn's disease-specific anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibody (ASCA) serodiagnostic assays have recently been modified, with ELISA cut-off values recalculated to maximize sensitivity. The aim of this study was to determine whether the combination of these serodiagnostic tests could maximize diagnostic accuracy and minimize invasive investigations in pediatric patients presenting with nonspecific symptoms suggestive of IBD.

Methods: With investigators blinded to clinical diagnoses, ASCA, ANCA, and pANCA profiles were obtained prospectively from 128 patients undergoing complete diagnostic evaluation for IBD. In phase I, diagnostic accuracy and predictive values of the modified and traditional assays were compared for the IBD (n = 54) and non-IBD groups (n = 74). In phase II, the overall accuracy of a novel sequential diagnostic testing strategy was determined. Additionally, the potential number of invasive investigations avoided with the hypothetical application of this strategy to the cohort was determined.

Results: For phase I, the modified serodiagnostic assay was more sensitive (81 vs 69%), whereas the traditional assay had a higher specificity (96 vs 72%) for IBD (p < 0.05) For phase II, false-positive diagnoses would have been reduced by 81%, yielding an overall sequential testing strategy accuracy of 84%.

Conclusions: The incorporation of sequential noninvasive testing into a diagnostic strategy may avoid unnecessary and costly evaluations and facilitate clinical decision making when the diagnosis of IBD in children is initially uncertain.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antibodies, Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic / analysis
  • Antibodies, Fungal / analysis
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology
  • Male
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / immunology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Serologic Tests / methods
  • Serologic Tests / standards*
  • Single-Blind Method


  • Antibodies, Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic
  • Antibodies, Fungal