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About Sickkids
About SickKids

September 20, 2018

SickKids team launches expanded and updated CALIPER app and website

By: Carly Thackray, Intern, Corporate Communications

A diagnostic tool developed by researchers at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and used to better understand blood test results for children, has now expanded to enhance clinical interpretation of almost all clinically important blood tests.

The Canadian Laboratory Initiative for Paediatric Reference Intervals (CALIPER) database contains “normal” results for blood tests from healthy children called reference intervals. These reference intervals are used by clinicians as a benchmark to determine whether their patients’ results are within the expected range. 

Screenshot of the CALIPER app

Prior to the initial launch of CALIPER in 2012, the available reference intervals had significant demographic gaps. A comprehensive representation of the paediatric population was needed to enable clinicians to more accurately interpret blood test results and diagnose paediatric patients.

“Without appropriate reference intervals, clinicians were turning to these data points in the adult population,” says Dr. Khosrow Adeli, who is the Head of the Division of Clinical Biochemistry at SickKids and CALIPER’s Principal Investigator. “Children are not small adults. Appropriate reference values specific to children of different ages and sex are essential for appropriate medical decision making.”

Today, the CALIPER database has results from over 10,000 healthy and ethnically diverse children, aged two days to 18 years. Participants are continuously recruited through community outreach initiatives in the greater Toronto area. This latest expansion of CALIPER has also seen the number of tests available increase from 63 to 178.

“By comparing a child’s test results to a representative database of healthy paediatric reference intervals, the chances of misdiagnosis or unnecessary invasive tests are significantly reduced,” says Dr. Khosrow Adeli, who is the Head of the Division of Clinical Biochemistry at SickKids and CALIPER's Principal Investigator. “The aim of CALIPER is that every child who goes to a hospital, a doctor’s office, or a paediatrician, benefits from this work and this data.”

The improved CALIPER database is user-friendly, not only for health-care professionals, but also for parents and children. Using either the CALIPER mobile app or website, clinicians and parents can input their patients’ or children’s test results to instantly see how they compare to “normal” reference intervals. Users can input age and sex for specific tests and identify which lab instrument was used in the test, to precisely determine the correct reference intervals.

“The apps are accessible to anyone in any community and we want CALIPER to be as widely used as possible”, says Adeli. “It really has a direct impact on paediatric care.”

The CALIPER web app can be accessed for free around the world by signing up with an email address. CALIPER has been accessed by individuals in 110 countries around the world and is used by thousands of people daily.

Development of the CALIPER database would not have been possible without the generous participation of thousands of families and children in the community. The CALIPER team at SickKids plans to continue recruiting participants for the database to further improve the accuracy of its reference intervals and ensure it is as representative of the Canadian paediatric population as possible.

The web database can be accessed at https://caliper.research.sickkids.ca/. The mobile app is available for download at no cost in the Apple App Store and on Google Play. Once downloaded, the app can be accessed without the use of a network connection.