Background:: Fecal Calprotectin (FC) is a validated screening test for intestinal inflammation in Crohn's disease (CD). The objective of the study was to prospectively evaluate the limitations of FC for identifying CD in newly diagnosed untreated pediatric patients and to assess the association of FC levels with disease location and serum inflammatory markers.
Methods:: Consecutive children with new onset untreated CD participating in the ongoing ESPGHAN GROWTH CD study were evaluated at diagnosis for disease activity, extent, C‐reactive protein (CRP), and FC.
Results:: In all, 60 children met the inclusion criteria (mean age 12.6 ± 4.6 years,), 25 (42%) with mild disease, 17 (28%) moderate disease, and 18 (30%) severe disease. Twenty‐seven (45%) had small bowel disease only. Median FC levels did not differ between children with small bowel only (2198 μg/g interquartile range [IQR] 696–2400) and those with colonic involvement (with or without small bowel disease; 2400 μg/g (IQR 475–2400) (P = 0.76). FC was elevated in 95% of patients, in comparison to CRP (86%) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) (83%). Three children (5%) who had normal calprotectin levels also had low or normal CRP and/or ESR. There was no correlation between calprotectin levels and either the pediatric CD activity index (r = −0.11; P = 0.94) or physicians global assessment.
Conclusions:: FC levels in active disease confined to the small bowel were elevated in the vast majority of children and site of disease was not a confounding factor in this setting. Patients with low FC had a trend toward low levels of inflammatory markers as well. We did not find a significant correlation between FC and clinical indices of activity (Inflamm Bowel Dis 2012)