Recognizing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is straightforward when alarm symptoms are present, such as bloody diarrhea and weight loss. When the presentation is subtle or atypical, physicians must determine which patients warrant evaluation for IBD. Appropriate use of noninvasive tests can help identify which patients should undergo further investigation.Currently IBD serologies lack high enough sensitivity and specificity to make them useful as a screening test for distinguishing IBD from other disorders, but they may have a role in classifying subtypes of IBD. Fecal markers seem promising for helping to differentiate IBD from irritable bowl syndrome and for monitoring disease activity. Pharmacogenetically guided dosing is recommended for safe use of thiopurines but ongoing routine laboratory monitoring remains important. Thiopurine metabolite measurement can be useful but may not be needed in all cases.Primary care physicians should continue to rely on routine laboratory tests and clinical suspicion to decide which patients with abdominal pain to refer to a gastroenterologist. Serology panels are not useful for IBD screening as the results may lead to unnecessary procedures. Although fecal markers do show promise as a screening test for IBD, patient resistance to providing stool samples may limit its usefulness in disease monitoring. Thiopurine metabolite levels are best used in conjunction with clinical status and routine laboratory tests to monitor clinical response and adverse events.
View details for DOI 10.1097/MOP.0b013e32830d3aaf
View details for Web of Science ID 000259711200008
View details for PubMedID 18781120