A Rapid Blood Test to Quickly Rule Out Appendicitis?

Apr 02, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new a rapid blood test to rule out appendicitis among the 8 million patients who come to U.S. emergency rooms with abdominal pain each year may save patients from unnecessary radiation from a diagnostic CT scan, eliminate extra tests and hours of hospital observation, and cut costs in the process.

A new a rapid blood test to rule out appendicitis among the 8 million patients who come to U.S. emergency rooms with abdominal pain each year may save patients from unnecessary radiation from a diagnostic CT scan, eliminate extra tests and hours of hospital observation, and cut costs in the process. The test, which is currently being studied at two Penn Medicine hospitals and 11 other sites, screens for a novel of inflammation, and is designed to be used along with other common blood tests used to detect appendicitis. Young women and children are expected to benefit most from the test, since their reproductive organs are especially sensitive to radiation from imaging studies.

“Abdominal pain is the number-one reason people come to the emergency department, and appendicitis is one of the most commonly performed emergency surgeries in the United States,” says Angela Mills, MD, an assistant professor of at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “People wind up getting a lot of tests, and waiting a long time, in order for us to be sure they don’t have this condition. This test may help us limit unnecessary radiation to patients, and cut the costs and emergency room crowding associated with waiting for answers from standard tests.”

Mills is leading the study at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, which will enroll about 110 of the study’s 800 patients. The test, which was developed by AspenBio Pharma, is a simple blood draw which is taken along with other labs ordered by physicians to evaluate a patient’s condition, including those that check for signs of infection like elevated white blood cell counts. Eventually, Mills said, the test is expected to be administered as a standalone test at the bedside, saving even more time by eliminating the need to send the blood to a hospital lab for analysis - similar to how chest pain patients’ cardiac enzymes can be rapidly tested to determine if they may have had a heart attack.

Women of childbearing age will likely benefit most from the new test, Mills says, since it’s important to limit exposure of their reproductive organs to radiation from CT scans that are typically used to detect appendicitis. This age group comprises a large percentage of patients who come to the emergency room with , but their symptoms can have many other causes, from ovarian cysts and ectopic pregnancies to pelvic inflammatory disease. Radiation exposure is also a concern for small children, who may not be able to explain the type of pain they’re having and are likely to undergo extensive testing.

Mills and her co-investigators at 11 other sites around the country say the test will be best used to identify “low-risk” patients - those who get a negative result and, because of their health history and other results, are unlikely to require further studies and are able to be sent home. Patients who test positive, however, may require more testing to be certain of a diagnosis, since those with inflammatory bowel disease or other inflammatory conditions appear to be prone to “false positive” results even when they do not have .

“At a time when the country is focused on reducing health care spending, tests that can increase efficiency and eliminate unnecessary tests are a welcome addition to the tools we use to care for patients in our increasingly crowded emergency rooms,” Mills says. “A negative test result could help us reassure our patients about what might be wrong with them, and help us open space for other sick patients.”

Explore further: Stem cells faulty in Duchenne muscular dystrophy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

CT scans to determine heart disease in the emergency room

Nov 27, 2007

In the future, patients who arrive at a hospital Emergency Department complaining of chest pain may be diagnosed with a sophisticated CT scan. If the diagnosis is negative, the patient can go home—and the total time at ...

What is the clinical character of Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome?

Dec 23, 2008

Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome is characterized by inflammation in perihepatic capsules with concomitant pelvic inflammation. The pain in the right upper abdomen appeared as the main symptom. These cases have to be cautiously ...

Recommended for you

Stem cells faulty in Duchenne muscular dystrophy

9 hours ago

Like human patients, mice with a form of Duchenne muscular dystrophy undergo progressive muscle degeneration and accumulate connective tissue as they age. Now, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have ...

Here's how the prion protein protects us

14 hours ago

The cellular prion protein (PrPC) has the ability to protect the brain's neurons. Although scientists have known about this protective physiological function for some time, they were lacking detailed knowledge ...

Regulation of maternal miRNAs in early embryos revealed

15 hours ago

The Center for RNA Research at the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) has succeeded in revealing, for the first time, the mechanism of how miRNAs, which control gene expression, are regulated in the early embryonic stage.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.