Leslie Donato, Ph.D., DABCC, Co-Director of the Cardiovascular Laboratory Medicine and Co-Director of the Hospital Clinical Laboratory and Point-of-Care Testing at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, recently authored an article in Clinical Laboratory News on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
IBS is a condition characterized by altered bowel habits and chronic abdominal pain. According to the article, clinicians sometimes refer to IBS as a functional disorder given that anatomical alterations (e.g., inflammation or villous atrophy) or dysfunction (e.g., enzyme deficiency) are typically not observed in patients’ gastrointestinal systems. This makes IBS a diagnosis of exclusion since the syndrome shares clinical symptoms with other organic diseases, including malignancy, infection, and autoimmune bowel diseases.
According to Dr. Donato, there are no guideline-endorsed biochemical or imaging tests to diagnose IBS, so diagnosis relies on clinical symptoms. With a wide range of differential diagnoses for all types of IBS, Dr. Donato focuses on laboratory testing only for patients presenting with chronic diarrhea and no occult blood. The article identifies various scenarios in which IBS may be identified and diagnosed by excluding considerations.
Based on her conclusions, Dr. Donato states that diarrhea-predominant IBS is not a straightforward diagnosis, so physicians consider a multitude of diarrhea-causing etiologies during clinical evaluations. Some laboratory testing aids in this process, however, most tests in the laboratory armamentarium identify IBS with diarrhea conditions.
Read the full article.