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Free Content The use of light-emitting diode fluorescence to diagnose mycobacterial lymphadenitis in fine-needle aspirates fromchildren

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BACKGROUND: Fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) is a simple, safe and effective method for investigating suspected mycobacterial lymphadenitis in children. Fluorescence microscopy can provide rapid mycobacterial confirmation. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) provide a cheap and robust excitation light source, making fluorescence microscopy feasible in resource-limited settings.

OBJECTIVE: To compare the diagnostic performance of LED fluorescence microscopy on Papanicolaou (PAP) stained smears with the conventional mercury vapour lamp (MVL).

METHODS: FNAB smears routinely collected from palpable lymph nodes in children with suspected mycobacterial disease were PAP-stained and evaluated by two independent microscopists using different excitatory light sources (MVL and LED). Mycobacterial culture results provided the reference standard. A manually rechargeable battery-powered LED power source was evaluated in a random subset.

RESULTS: We evaluated 182 FNAB smears from 121 children (median age 31 months, interquartile range 10–67). Mycobacterial cultures were positive in 84 of 121 (69%) children. The mean sensitivity with LED (mains-powered), LED (rechargeable battery-powered) and MVL was respectively 48.2%, 50.0% and 51.8% (specificity 78.4%, 86.7% and 78.4%). Inter-observer variation was similar for LED and MVL (κ = 0.5).

CONCLUSION: LED fluorescence microscopy provides a reliable alternative to conventional methods and has many favourable attributes that would facilitate improved, decentralised diagnostic services.
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Keywords: LED fluorescence microscopy; children; fine-needle aspiration biopsy; mycobacteria; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Division of Anatomical Pathology, Department of Pathology, National Health Laboratory Service, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa 2: Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa 3: Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa 4: Desmond Tutu TB Centre, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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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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