About half of the 700,000 annual cases of suspected appendicitis in the United States lack the usual symptoms – pain in the lower right abdomen, fever and a rising white blood cell count – making the decision to operate somewhat problematic. Now, thanks to a new imaging agent based on technology developed by nuclear medicine researchers at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, doctors may finally have a way to rapidly and accurately detect those hard-to-diagnose cases.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved NeutroSpec, a monoclonal antibody that binds to a type of infection-fighting white blood cell, for use in patients five years and older who have inconclusive symptoms of appendicitis.
NeutroSpec is “radiolabeled,” meaning it carries technetium, a radioactive substance. When injected into the blood, NeutroSpec finds and binds to a certain receptor on neutrophils, white blood cells that the body uses to fight infection. Doctors can then locate the antibody and the infection site by using a device called a gamma camera. In case of hard to diagnose cases, the gamma camera pictures allow doctors to accurately see if the appendix is infected or not and permits them to treat the cause appropriately.
Steven Benowitz | EurekAlert!
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