One hundred and sixty six bone marrow aspirates from children with abdominal neuroblastoma were independently examined for the presence of neuroblastoma cells by conventional haematological staining techniques and by indirect immunofluorescence using one or more of five monoclonal antibodies. Results using the two methods were evaluated by comparison with the results of bone marrow, bone and lymph node biopsy specimens taken at the same time, and in the light of the child's clinical course. One antibody, UJ13A, was found to have 98.5% specificity and 85.7% sensitivity, compared with sensitivities for conventional staining of 50% for aspirate alone and of aspirate or trephine biopsy specimen of 71.4%. The remaining antibodies UJ127/11, UJ223/8, UJ181/4 and UJ167/11, with specificities in the range 94-99%, were found to have sensitivities in the range 47-61%, lower than the sensitivity of conventionally stained aspirate or trephine biopsy specimen. Routine immunofluorescence staining with monoclonal antibody UJ13A should increase the sensitivity of detection of metastatic neuroblastoma.
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