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Simple test identifies appendicitis quicker

December 8, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
More than a third of kids with appendicitis don't get diagnosed soon enough -- and many others get the wrong diagnosis. Now researchers have created a simple test that could give families the answers they need and detect appendicitis sooner.Harris Dale says his overnight ordeal with appendicitis was horrible. After several exams, X-rays and a blood test, doctors told him he had indigestion. Hours later a CAT scan revealed he had appendicitis.

"It's a little disturbing to hear that doctors can't tell constipation from appendicitis," said Dale.

Up to 45-percent of appendicitis cases take so long to diagnose the appendix ruptures and up to 30-percent of kids have an appendix removed unnecessarily because of a misdiagnosis. A new test that focuses on the presence of a specific protein in a child's urine could clear up the confusion.

"If this protein is present in urine, then there is a very high chance that this child has appendicitis," said Dr. Hanno Steen, Children's Hospital Boston.

Researchers used a device, called a spectrophotometer, to shine a light through the test tube. It picks up on a specific protein in urine that signals appendicitis.

"In a couple of years, we would like to have a dipstick test which allows us to do this kind of urine analysis in the ER within minutes," said Dr. Steen.

Studies show the biomarker test is accurate 97-percent of the time. This will help eliminate the guesswork and unnecessary pain for kids.


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