Dipstick test to diagnose appendicitis

A urine test for appendicitis could soon be available that would simplify its diagnosis in children, US researchers have claimed.

They have identified a protein present in the urine of children with appendicitis that could serve as a biomarker for the condition.

Mass spectrometry was used to isolate proteins in the urine of 67 children with an average age of 11 years, who were being evaluated in hospital for acute abdominal pain. Urinary levels of the proteins were then compared between the 25 children who were diagnosed with appendicitis, and the rest, for whom a different diagnosis was made.

A candidate biomarker for appendicitis was found. Leucine-rich alpha-2-glycoprotein (LRG) was present at elevated levels in the urine of children with appendicitis, and its concentration was correlated with disease severity.

Sensitivity and specificity of the marker were very high, giving an area under the curve values of 0.97.

The researchers, led by Dr Richard Bachur from the proteomics centre at the Children's Hospital Boston, hope that a simple urine dipstick test for LRG could soon be developed that would enable more accurate diagnosis of appendicitis in children.

GPletters@haymarket.com

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