Greek Americans Gabriela Fragiadakis and Monica Nicolaou are part of a group of researchers in the United States who have developed a blood test that can determine the time a patient needs to recover from surgery.
The blood test detects the non-apparent reactions of the immune system at the cellular level, estimating the expected recovery time.
Each year, about 200 million surgeries are performed around the world. Although most of them are not serious surgeries, they often cause inflammations that extend the patient’s hospital time and complicate recovery.
Scientists haven’t yet found out why some people recover quickly – within a week, for instance – while others, after the same surgery, may need a month or more to fully recover, and do so while suffering pain, fatigue and mobility problems.
The researchers, led by professor of microbiology and immunology Garry Nolan and Brice Gaudilliere, clinical instructor in anesthesia at Stanford’s School of Medicine, analyzed blood samples from 32 patients aged 50-80 years old. All had undergone orthopedic surgery.
The research, published in “Science Translational Medicine,” shows that there are specific “signals” in the cells. Until now, these had gone unnoticed. Now, they can be used to provide some indicication on patients’ required recovery time.
According to the researchers, there is an immunological “signature” to recovery, different for each person. Consisting of a group of biochemical markers, these “signatures” can be measured in the blood within 24 hours of the surgery.