IBD, Medical Tests

Fecal Calprotectin Tests

What is a fecal calprotectin test? 

This test measures the level of calprotectin your stool. Calprotectin is a protein that increases in the stool when inflammation in the intestines occurs. Elevated calprotectin in the stool may indicate increased Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) activity.  

What is the test used for? 

This test is used to monitor Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) activity and severity. A higher level of calprotectin can indicate higher levels of inflammation. It is also used to distinguish IBD from other gastrointestinal conditions that may have similar symptoms but are not caused by inflammation.  

Why do I need a fecal calprotectin test? 

Your doctor or other healthcare provider may order a fecal calprotectin test if you have of the following symptoms:  

  • Watery diarrhea three or more times a day, lasting for more than four days  
  • Abdominal pain  
  • Blood and/or mucus in the stool  
  • Fever  
  • Fatigue  
  • Weight loss 

What happens during the test? 

You will need to provide a sample of your stool for this test. Your healthcare provider or the lab performing the test will give you specific instructions on how to collect and send in your sample.  

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?  

For some tests you may be required to withhold certain medications or foods. Your healthcare provider or the lab will provide you with instructions that include if you need to stop or avoid anything prior to the test.  

Are there any risks to the test?  

There is no known risk to having a fecal calprotectin test. 

What do the results mean? 

An elevated fecal calprotectin level indicates that inflammation is likely present in the intestines. It doesn’t give any information about the location or the cause of the inflammation.  Typically, a higher calprotectin level is associated with more severe inflammation. 

High levels of calprotectin in the stool could also indicate a bacterial or parasitic infection or colon cancer. Your doctor may order follow-up tests such as endoscopy (colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy) to help determine the cause of the inflammation.  

A low calprotectin means there is little to no inflammation in the intestines. Gastrointestinal symptoms are more likely related to a non-inflammatory bowel disorder such as viral infection or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).