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Urine test for appendicitis

[Posted: Tue 23/06/2009 by Olivia Fens]

Appendicitis is a common surgical emergency but is difficult to diagnose and can often lead to either unnecessary surgery or a ruptured appendix with serious complications.

But US researchers have found that a protein, detectable in urine, might serve as a ‘biomarker’ (or sign) of appendicitis.

Previous studies have found that between 3-30% of children have unnecessary appendectomies, while 30-45% of those diagnosed with appendicitis already have a ruptured appendix.

Laboratory biomarkers have been identified previously, but none have proved reliable enough to be useful.

In the new study, researchers from Children's Hospital Boston found that high levels of leucine-rich alpha-2-glycoprotein (LRG) clearly indicated a diseased appendix, even when the appendix appeared normal on imaging.

The urine LRG levels were detected by immunoblotting, which means that a rapid clinical test, such as a urine dipstick, could be developed through further research, the researchers said.

However, the researchers noted that since their study was limited to children, and that patterns of biomarkers were likely to vary in older patients, LRG testing would need to be studied in other clinical settings.

The study was published in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine.

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