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Experimental Urine Test Spots Appendicitis
Date:6/23/2009

Holds promise for faster, more accurate diagnoses, researchers say

TUESDAY, June 23 (HealthDay News) -- A new urine test may one day spot appendicitis faster and more accurately than current tests do, researchers report.

Appendicitis is the most common surgical emergency in children, but the diagnosis can be challenging. An incorrect diagnosis can either lead to unnecessary surgery or a ruptured appendix with serious complications.

"We have found a protein in the urine that is diagnostic for appendicitis," said study co-author Hanno Steen, director of the Proteomics Center at Children's Hospital Boston. "This would mean that diagnosis of appendicitis is faster, more reliable and much more cost-efficient."

Ultrasound and computed tomography scans are used to diagnose appendicitis, yet 3 percent to 30 percent of children have unnecessary appendectomies, while 30 percent to 45 percent of those diagnosed with appendicitis already have a ruptured appendix, Steen noted.

In addition, patients can wait hours in the emergency room before they are able to have these tests, Steen said.

The report is published in the June 23 online edition of the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

For the study, Steen's team looked at urine samples from six patients with appendicitis and six without appendicitis. The researchers identified 32 possible biomarkers associated with the condition. To these, they added other markers found in gene studies.

Steen's group then looked for these 57 potential markers in 67 children with possible appendicitis. Among these children, 25 actually did have appendicitis, the researchers noted.

From this study, the researchers identified seven biomarkers linked with appendicitis. Of these, leucine-rich alpha-2-glycoprotein appeared to be the best -- with few false-positive or false-negative results.

Based on these results, Steen's group hopes to deve
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