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ZonMw grant to improve diagnostics in children with abdominal pain in general practice

23 November 2018

Researchers Gea Holtman and Marjolein Berger of the Department of General Practice and Elderly care medicine have received a ZonMw grant of € 500,000. With this grant they will investigate whether a rapid test for a protein that is released in the intestines when there is an inflammation (calprotectin), helps the general practitioner to distinguish between functional abdominal symptoms and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in children.

Chronic abdominal pain and diarrhea are common in children in general practice. The symptoms are often functional. This means that they are not caused by an abnormality in the organs, such as IBD (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis). The GP can not easily distinguish between functional symptoms and IBD, because the symptoms are similar. As a result, many children are referred to the hospital for further diagnostics; that is stressful for the children and their parents.

Rapid test

In this study, the patient delivers their faeces to the general practitioner. This stool is mixed with a buffer and this can be placed in a test device. The result is then known within 15 minutes. Children with IBD have a higher value of calprotectin in their faeces than children with functional abdominal symptoms, who have no inflammation in the intestine.

About the research

In this study, half of the general practitioners will use the rapid test and the other half will not. This study will evaluate whether the rapid test will reduce the referral rate of children with chronic abdominal pain or diarrhea, without missing a child with IBD. A total of 154 general practices are participating in the study to recruit around 400 children. The study takes four years and starts in January 2019.