BackgroundDiagnosis of pulmonary (PTB) and extra-pulmonary tuberculosis (EPTB) in smear-negative patients can be difficult. We assessed retrospectively the performance of Xpert MTB/RIF system (Xpert, Cepheid) in diagnosing smear-negative tuberculosis (TB), which represents the most common form of TB in a low incidence setting.
MethodsPerformance of Xpert was compared to acid-fast microscopic examination using Ziehl-Neelsen (ZN) stain in patients with culture-confirmed TB.
Results386 Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) culture-positive samples were detected out of 5170 specimens tested with smear microscopy, Xpert and culture: 323 were both culture- and Xpert-positive, and 63 culture-positive only. Of these, 234 (60.6%) were smear-negative. In addition Xpert detected 40 probable TB cases, based on clinical findings, which were culture-negative. Compared to culture, Xpert showed an overall sensitivity of 83.7% and a specificity of 99.1%; sensitivity was higher for respiratory samples (86.5%) than for non-respiratory samples (76.8%). Xpert sensitivity for smear-negative culture-confirmed TB was 73.1% and was not influenced by TB localization. As sensitivity of microscopy alone was poor (39.4%), Xpert improved both diagnosis of pulmonary TB (? = 36.5%) and extra-pulmonary TB (? = 63.4%).
ConclusionsXpert MTB/RIF is a sensitive method for rapid diagnosis of TB compared to the conventional ZN staining. Xpert can serve as a sensitive and time-saving diagnostic method for microbiological diagnosis of smear-negative TB in countries with a low TB prevalence.
SUBMITTER: Lombardi G