Sunday, June 28, 2009

Urine Test May Detect Childhood Appendicitis

Recognized as the most common cause of emergency surgery in children, appendicitis is an irritation, inflammation, and infection of the appendix. The majority of appendicitis cases occur between the ages of 6 and 20 years with approximately four appendectomies performed for every 1,000 children under the age of 14. Because appendicitis is often difficult to accurately detect in children, the suspicion of the condition leads to the performance of unnecessary surgeries on about 30 percent of the children who undergo them. In addition, 30 to 45 percent of patients suffer an appendix rupture before a diagnosis is made.

With a new technological breakthrough, researchers from the Proteomics Center at Children’s Hospital in Boston have developed a urine test that can detect “biomarkers” indicating appendicitis in children. The promise shown by this new test could lead to improved diagnosis, possibly even replace the use of CT scans, and eliminate the exposure of children to radiation. The details of the research were recently published in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine.

The appendix is a narrow, elongated tube closed at one end, extending from the cecum, a blind pocket off the first part of the large intestine. Although the exact function of the human appendix is unknown, it plays a role as a part of the body’s immune system during the early years of life. Later, the appendix ceases to function as other organs continue to protect against infection.

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