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J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1993 Aug;17(2):193-7.

Examination of anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies in childhood inflammatory bowel disease.

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  • 1Alfred I. duPont Institute, Jefferson Medical College, Wilmington, Delaware 19899.


The detection of anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCA), in a perinuclear fluorescence pattern, in the serum of adults with inflammatory bowel disease has recently been described to be sensitive and specific for a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis in comparison to Crohn's disease and other colitides. We have examined the sera of 41 children and adolescents with ulcerative colitis, 27 with Crohn's disease, and a control group for the presence of ANCA. Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies were detected in the serum of 27 of 41 patients with ulcerative colitis (66%), five of 27 with Crohn's disease (19%), and in none of our control subjects or patients with functional abdominal pain. Overall, the presence of ANCA was 66% sensitive and 84% specific for a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis when compared to Crohn's disease. There was no relationship between a positive ANCA value and disease activity or other clinical indicators. We conclude that evaluation for the presence of ANCA may be a useful adjunct for the clinical assessment of patients with inflammatory bowel disease. The presence of ANCA in children and adolescents, however, will not definitively distinguish between patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

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