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What does positive result for fecal lactoferrin indicate?

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Infectious Diseases Specialist
Practicing since : 2002
Answered : 2448 Questions
I am a 32 year old female. I currently weigh 166 pounds and am 5 feet 4 inches tall. I have been seeing a variety of specialist because of joint pain and IBS symptoms and numbness & tingling in hands and lots of other things. They don't seem to be able to diagnose me with anything specific. The rheumatologist I recently saw said I need to go to the Mayo Clinic. Last week I went to Urgent Care and my CBC came back normal but she did do several stool studies. I just got the results today. One of the tests was called a fecal lactoferrin. Test came back positive for fecal lactoferrin. Does a positive result for this particular test mean that I definitely do have IBD? I have had two endo scopys and 2 colonoscopies in the past 7 years and the only thing I ever heard was that I had a spastic colon and they thought I had IBS.
Posted Fri, 21 Feb 2014 in Digestion and Bowels
Answered by Dr. Praveen G 2 hours later
Brief Answer: Postive fecal lactoferrin suggest IBD. Detailed Answer: Hello, I had gone through your history and understand your concern. History of joint pain and numbness an tingling in the hands are very nonspecific symptoms which leads me nowhere to the diagnosis. However since the fecal lactoferrin test was positive, it is likely that you suffer from chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This non invasive test is both sensitive and specific to IBD. Do you have history of passing blood and mucous in stools? - if you have, then I would have no doubts that you have IBD. In this context, I would refer you to a gastroenterolgist for further evaluation. You will need colonoscopies at regular intervals and if needed steroids and aminosalicyclic acid should be started. Hope I answered your query. Will be glad to answer your doubts. Thank you.
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Follow-up: What does positive result for fecal lactoferrin indicate? 35 hours later
I just spoke to the nurse on the phone and she proceeded to tell me that diarrhea would cause a positive fecal lactoferrin. I kept telling her I did not have diarrhea in that stool. Does diarrhea really cause a positive fecal lactoferrin? Should a doctor just dismiss that test?
Answered by Dr. Praveen G 9 hours later
Brief Answer: Inflammatory Bowel Disease Detailed Answer: Hello, She is trying to inform you that your stool if positive for Fecal Lactoferrin. It is positive in your formed stool and in watery stool if you are having. If you want to confirm that whether you are having IBD or not you can undergo some more tests so that all your confusion regarding your disease will be answered. 1. A biopsy may be performed during colonoscopy, in which tissue samples are evaluated for inflammation and abnormal changes in cell structures. This test is considered the gold standard for diagnosis of IBD. 2. Stool test for Calprotectin - This also help us to know whether there is any inflammation. If these tests come negative then we can think of dismissing this diagnosis. Hope all your query,confusion and concern is answered. If you have any query feel free to post me. Thank you.
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