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Rivalta’s test is a very simple, inexpensive method that does not require special laboratory equipment and can be easily performed in private practice. This test was originally developed by the Italian researcher Rivalta around 1900 and was used to differentiate transudates and exudates in human patients. This test is very useful in cats to differentiate between effusions due to FIP and effusions caused by other diseases [Hartmann et al., 2003]. Not only the high protein content, but high concentrations of fibrinogen and inflammatory mediators lead to a positive reaction.
Rivalta test is used in order to differentiate a transudate from an exudate. A test tube is filled with distilled water and acetic acid is added. To this mixture one drop of the effusion to be tested is added. If the drop dissipates, the test is negative, indicating a transudate. If the drop precipitates, the test is positive, indicating an exudate.
Using a pH 4.0 acetic acid solution, 8 types of proteins were identified in Rivalta reaction-positive turbid precipitates: C-reactive protein (CRP), Alpha 1-antitrypsin (alpha1-AT), Orosomucoid ((Alpha-1-acid glycoprotein or AGP)), haptoglobin (Hp), transferrin (Tf), ceruloplasmin (Cp), fibrinogen (Fg), and hemopexin (Hpx). Since those are Acute-phase proteins, a positive Rivalta's test may be suggestive of inflammation.
To perform this test, a transparent reagent tube (volume 10 ml) is filled with approximately 7-8 ml distilled water, to which 1 drop of acetic acid (98%) is added and mixed thoroughly. On the surface of this solution, 1 drop of the effusion fluid is carefully layered. If the drop disappears and the solution remains clear, the Rivalta’s test is defined as negative. If the drop retains its shape, stays attached to the surface or slowly floats down to the bottom of the tube (drop- or jelly-fish-like), the Rivalta’s test is defined as positive.
The Rivalta’s test had a high positive predictive value (86%) and a very high negative predictive value for FIP (96%) in a study in which cats that presented with effusion were investigated (prevalence of FIP 51%) [Hartmann et al., 2003]. Positive Rivalta’s test results can occur in cats with bacterial peritonitis or lymphoma.
- Berti-Bock G, Vial F, Premuda L, Rullière R (November 1979). "[Exudates, transudates and the Rivalta reaction (1895). Current status and historical premises]". Minerva Med. (in Italian) 70 (52): 3573–80. PMID 392338.
- "FELINE INFECTIOUS PERITONITIS (FIP) (A SUMMARY)". Retrieved 2009-06-24.
- Sakai N, Iijima S, Shiba K (November 2004). "Reinvestigation of clinical value of Rivalta reaction of puncture fluid". Rinsho Byori 52 (11): 877–82. PMID 15658465.
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