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Free Content Pooling sputum samples to improve the feasibility of Xpert® MTB/RIF in systematic screening for tuberculosis

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SETTING: Systematic screening for tuberculosis (TB) using Xpert® MTB/RIF.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether pooling sputum samples for Xpert testing may improve the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of Xpert by reducing the number of Xpert tests required.

DESIGN: Mycobacterium tuberculosis-spiked sputum samples at low organism concentrations were used to mimic samples that are more likely to be found in the screening, compared to the diagnostic, setting. Using Xpert, pooled sputum samples were tested from a pooling ratio of 1 in 2 to 1 in 12.

RESULTS: A linear relationship between the pooling ratio and the Xpert MTB cycle threshold (Ct) value was found. As the sputum pooling ratio increased, the Ct value also increased. However, the slope of this increase was relatively small. In the majority of the samples pooled (75/96, 78.1%), Xpert was able to detect M. tuberculosis.

CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that sputum pooling may be a viable method of improving the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of large-scale sputum testing using Xpert in the TB screening setting.
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Keywords: active case finding; molecular test; screening tool; test sensitivity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, University of Sydney, Sydney, South Western Sydney Clinical School, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Centre for Research Excellence in Tuberculosis, University of Sydney, Sydney 2: Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, Pathology West and Marie Bashir Institute of Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 3: Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, Hanoi, Viet Nam 4: Centre for Research Excellence in Tuberculosis, University of Sydney, Sydney, Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, Pathology West and Marie Bashir Institute of Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 5: Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, University of Sydney, Sydney, Centre for Research Excellence in Tuberculosis, University of Sydney, Sydney, Central Clinical School, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Publication date: 01 May 2017

More about this publication?
  • 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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