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Free Content Real-time polymerase chain reaction in bronchial aspirate for rapid detection of sputum smear-negative tuberculosis

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SETTING: The real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) has increasingly been used for the detection of various micro-organisms, including mycobacteria.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the role of RT-PCR in confirming the diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) when acid-fast bacilli (AFB) smear results in sputum samples were not available (i.e., no sputum or negative smear results).

DESIGN: We analysed the data of consecutive patients whose bronchial aspirate (BA) was tested for RT-PCR for the diagnosis of TB from January 2006 to April 2008. Computed tomography (CT), bronchoscopy and tissue biopsies were performed in all patients for confirmatory diagnosis, and BA was collected for microbiological analyses and RT-PCR. Final diagnoses were based on microbiological or clinicopathological criteria.

RESULTS: Final diagnoses were made in 136 patients, and TB was confirmed in 77 (including 65 culture-positive patients). RT-PCR was positive in 51.9% (40/77) of the confirmed TB patients. More TB patients (20.8%) were detected using RT-PCR than using BA-AFB stain (40 vs. 20, P < 0.001). Of the 77 TB patients, 44 (57.1%) were detected within a few days using a combination of BA-AFB and RT-PCR.

CONCLUSION: Real-time RT-PCR of bronchial aspirate seems to be useful for the rapid diagnosis of TB in suspects with smear-negative TB sputum or no sputum.
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Keywords: bronchoscopy; real-time polymerase chain reaction; smear; sputum; tuberculosis, pulmonary

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine and Lung Institute, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seoul, Korea 2: Department of Laboratory Medicine, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seoul, Korea

Publication date: 2010-07-01

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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