Ginesu, Francesco and Pirina, Pietro and Sechi, Leonardo Antonio and Molicotti, Paola and Santoru, Luigi and Porcu, Loredana and Fois, Alessandro Giuseppe and Arghittu, P. and Zanetti, Stefania Anna Lucia and Fadda, Guido (1998) Microbiological diagnosis of tuberculosis: a comparison of old and new methods. Journal of Chemotherapy, Vol. 10 (4), p. 295-300. eISSN 1973-9478. Article.
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The aim of our study was to evaluate the diagnostic value of various methods widely used in microbiological diagnosis of tuberculosis: direct smear examination for acid-fast bacilli, cultural identification in Lowestein-Jensen (L-J) medium, the radiometric BACTEC 460 system, and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Three hundred and ninety-three clinical samples of sputum (375), gastric aspirate (3), pleural fluid (12) and urine (3) were taken from 125 patients hospitalized at our Institute for suspected pulmonary tuberculosis, between January 1995 and June 1997. On completion of diagnosis, 35 were found to be affected by active tuberculosis (30 pulmonary, 4 pleural and 1 urinary) and 90 by other non-tubercular diseases (pneumonia, lung cancer, non-tubercular pleural effusion, etc.). In our study, direct smear examination for acid-smear bacilli gave diagnostic value results of 88% and positive predictive value of 91.67%. Cultural identification in L-J and BACTEC 460 TB radiometric system media resulted in diagnostic values of 96.80% and 94.40%, respectively, and positive predictive values of 100% for both of them. Finally, One-Tube Nested-PCR, a variant which uses specific primers for the IS6110 insertion sequence specific for Mycobacterium tuberculosis, gave us 88.80% (91.43% sensitivity and 87.78% specificity) diagnostic value results, and 74.42% (11 false-positives) positive predictive value. On the basis of our results, we can affirm that PCR is a good method for microbiological diagnosis of tuberculosis, given its high sensitivity and specificity and unparalleled rapidity. However, the high number of false-positives that we found suggests that results obtained should be confirmed with BACTEC, which considerably reduces the time required for identification, and makes it possible to carry out an antibiotic assay rapidly.
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