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Faecal blood test at GP surgery could reduce need for endoscopy

The number of patients referred to hospital for an unnecessary endoscopy could be cut by almost a third if an additional blood test were carried out by a GP.
Stool blood test

The number of patients referred to hospital for an unnecessary endoscopy could be cut by almost a third if an additional faecal blood test was carried out by a GP, suggest researchers from the Netherlands

They studied data collected from 810 patients with suspected serious colorectal disease (SCD) from 266 primary care practices in the Netherlands.

All the patients had a blood test known as FIT before being referred for endoscopy. FIT uses an antibody that recognises human haemoglobin so can be used to detect the presence of blood in a patients stool sample.

Of the 810 patients referred for endoscopy, 669 were found not to have SCD. Once the FIT test had been accounted for, the researchers found that about 30% of these 669 patients could have been prevented from having an endoscopy if they had been correctly

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The number of patients referred to hospital for an unnecessary endoscopy could be cut by almost a third if an additional faecal blood test was carried out by a GP, suggest researchers from the Netherlands 


Picture: SPL

They studied data collected from 810 patients with suspected serious colorectal disease (SCD) from 266 primary care practices in the Netherlands. 

All the patients had a blood test – known as FIT – before being referred for endoscopy. FIT uses an antibody that recognises human haemoglobin so can be used to detect the presence of blood in a patient’s stool sample. 

Of the 810 patients referred for endoscopy, 669 were found not to have SCD. Once the FIT test had been accounted for, the researchers found that about 30% of these 669 patients could have been prevented from having an endoscopy if they had been correctly diagnosed as not having SCD by their GP. 

‘The amount of patients that are unnecessarily referred for an endoscopy strains healthcare budgets and exposes patients to a small but realistic risk from endoscopy associated complications,’ the study authors said. 

‘Using a FIT test, alongside the usual diagnostic work done by GPs, could rule out nearly a third of patients from requiring an endoscopy to check for SCD.’ 


Elia S et al (2016) Is there an added value of faecal calprotectin and haemoglobin in the diagnostic work-up for primary care patients suspected of significant colorectal disease? A cross-sectional diagnostic study. BMC Medicine. doi: 10.1186/s12916-016-0684-5

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