Objectives: Fecal calprotectin (FC) is a relatively new marker of intraluminal intestinal inflammation. Using meta-analytical techniques, the study aimed to evaluate the diagnostic precision of FC for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colorectal cancer (CRC) in adults and children.
Methods: Quantitative meta-analysis was performed on prospective studies, comparing FC levels against the histological diagnosis. Sensitivity, specificity, and diagnostic odds ratio (DOR) were calculated for each study. Summary receiver-operating characteristic (sROC) curves and subgroup analysis were undertaken. Study quality and heterogeneity were evaluated.
Results: Thirty studies of 5,983 patients were included. FC levels in patients with IBD were higher by 219.2 micrograms per gram (microg/g) compared with normal patients (P < 0.001). sROC curve analysis showed a sensitivity of 0.95 (95% CI 0.93-0.97), specificity of 0.91 (95% CI 0.86-0.91), and an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.95 for the diagnosis of IBD. Patients with colorectal neoplasia had nonsignificantly higher FC levels by 132.2 microg/g compared with noncancer controls (P= 0.18). Sensitivity and specificity of FC for the diagnosis of CRC were 0.36 and 0.71, respectively, with an AUC of 0.66. The diagnostic precision of FC for IBD was higher in children than adults with better accuracy at a cutoff level of 100 microg/g versus 50 microg/g. Sensitivity analysis and metaregression analysis did not significantly alter the results.
Conclusions: FC cannot be recommended as a screening test for CRC in the general population. FC appeared to offer a good diagnostic precision in distinguishing IBD from non-IBD diagnoses, with higher precision at a cutoff of 100 microg/g.