J.H.P. WILSON; J.C. BIRKENHAEGER
To the editor: The new quantitative assay for fecal hemoglobin reported by Ahlquist and associates (1) is a highly sensitive and specific test for occult blood that allows the quantification of both total fecal heme and the fraction converted to porphyrins by gut flora. The conversion fraction provides an indication of the level of the bleeding lesion.
A brief historical note on the conversion of heme to porphyrins in the gut is perhaps of interest. In 1919, Isidore Snapper, then Professor of Medicine at the University of Amsterdam, reported (2) a spectroscopic method for measuring both heme and porphyrins in
WILSON J, BIRKENHAEGER J. Isidore Snapper (1889-1973) and Quantitative Assay of Fecal Hemoglobin. Ann Intern Med. ;102:721. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-102-5-721_1
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 1985;102(5):721.
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