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Test might ascertain who needs appendectomy

Biomarker in urine could minimize unnecessary surgery

3:32pm, June 23, 2009

A compound identifiable in urine might help doctors distinguish appendicitis from other abdominal problems and avoid needless surgery, researchers report online June 23 in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Because signs of appendicitis are particularly difficult to assess in young children and elderly adults, surgeons unnecessarily remove a healthy appendix in 10 to 20 percent of appendectomies performed in the United States, says pediatrician Alex Kentsis of Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital Boston.

True appendicitis, on the other hand, often goes untreated because it may cause few symptoms until the appendix ruptures. At that point, a patient risks intestinal infection and severe complications, Kentsis says.

In an effort to find biomarkers that tip off appendicitis better, Kentsis teamed with biochemist Hanno Steen and physician Richard Bachur, both also at Children’s Hospital, to test for 57 compounds in the urine of 67

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