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Doctors Misdiagnose Dengue as Cyst

Fever, along with excruciating abdominal pain, forced a 27-year-old woman to undergo a surgery for ovarian cyst. However, post-operation, she found out that the pain had nothing to do with the cyst, it was actually a manifestation of dengue.

The reason behind such wrong detection, say doctors, lies in the lack of uniformity in the diagnosis procedure of dengue.

A week ago, Priya Kadam, a school teacher, started getting fever, along with severe pain in her abdomen. Her family took her to a nearby hospital, where she was admitted, but the doctors apparently could not detect anything wrong with her. But as the pain continued, they assumed that it was because of either appendicitis or an ovarian cyst.

"Her sonography reports showed everything normal except for a small cyst in her ovary," said Manisha, Priya's sister-in-law. "Priya is newly married. Doctors worried that there must have been some gynaecological problems with her. As the doctors could not diagnose what was causing the fever and the pain, they assumed that the cyst was the reason." Manisha is also a nurse by profession.

Within two days, doctors operated upon her and removed the cyst. After remaining in post-operative care for a day, Priya again started feeling uneasy. It was then that she was shifted to Kohinoor Hospital in Kurla and the doctors there diagnosed that the abdominal pain was a symptom for dengue.

Physician at Kohinoor Hospital Dr Amol Manekar, who treated Priya, said her condition was very bad when she was brought to them on Friday. "Her haemoglobin and white blood cell count had gone up, while her platelet count was down. Her urine output was low and her liver and kidneys had started to fail. But low platelet count is a sure presentation of dengue, and that is what we tested her for," he said.

But the result came negative for dengue in the rapid screening test. But based on clinical diagnosis, doctors still started treating her for dengue. "It is common for us to find atypical symptoms of dengue in patients at the fag end of monsoon. But not testing for dengue and instead, removing a cyst affected Priya's immunity system," said Dr Manekar.

Pointing out that no uniformity is followed in the diagnosis procedure of dengue, Dr Jayanti Shastri, head of microbiology department at civic-run Nair Hospital, said, "PCR test is conducted in the initial phase of the ailment. It is provided free of cost to civic patients. The antibody tests have limited value and certain kits detect both antigens and antibodies. But the problem is that diagnostic centres in the city use various test kits, which may give false positives or false negatives." "The rapid tests are quick-fix methods and cost less. But sometimes they can be inaccurate, and may show false negatives, even when the doctors can see that the person concerned is suffering from dengue. So it is always better to go through an ELISA test, a confirmatory procedure. But the rule has to be standardized," said Dr Manekar.

After being treated for dengue, Priya's condition has stabilized but she is still in the intensive care. "Had she not undergone the operation for cyst, she would have been strong enough to fight dengue on her own," said Manisha.

Source: The Times of India

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