New test could predict surgical outcome

2 October 2014

A new blood test could help determine whether a person will need days, weeks or months to recover from a surgical procedure. Undergoing an operation triggers a high state of alert for the immune system, which can sometimes cause inflammation.

The means that some people can be in bed for weeks after an operation, while others will be back on their feet after a couple of days. Researchers have suggested the difference between these two outcomes is down to the immune response during surgery, but it has been had to determine a relationship between immune system activity and recovery times.

Now a team at Stanford University, California, have used cell-mapping technology to discover a person's "immune signature" in the hours following surgery, which can predict recovery times.

The technique called mass cytometry flushes antibodies through a blood sample, which attach to specific immune cells in the blood. Each antibody carries a heavy-metal ion with a particular mass, so when the blood sample is analysed, researchers can determine which immune cells are present. This means they can work out what signalling molecules are being produced, which influences their activity.

Posted by Edward Bartel

 

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