Background: Aortic dissection is one of the most common aortic catastrophes. Although newer diagnostic methods as exemplified by image diagnostic techniques have greatly improved the diagnosis of aortic dissection, the diagnosis is still frequently missed today because the signs and symptoms of the disease are at times obscure. A reliable biochemical diagnostic method for aortic dissection would be beneficial. Methods and Results: A novel biochemical diagnostic method for diagnosis of aortic dissection was developed that uses an immunoassay of monoclonal antibodies to smooth muscle myosin heavy chain. A prospective study was conducted to ascertain the usefulness of the method in the diagnosis of aortic dissection. Twenty-seven patients with aortic dissection admitted within the first 24 hours after onset were enrolled. Serial assay of serum smooth muscle myosin heavy chain showed significant elevations within the first 24 hours after onset of aortic dissection, with levels exceeding 10 ng/ml, with subsequent rapid reductions. The sensitivity of the assay within the first 12 hours was 90%, with a specificity of 97%. Analysis of 65 patients with acute myocardial infarction showed that the method could accurately differentiate myocardial infarction from aortic dissection. Conclusions: The immunoassay of serum smooth muscle myosin heavy chain is a rapid and reliable biochemical method in the diagnosis of aortic dissection. The potential use of the method in clinical medicine is promising.
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