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Sensitivity of polymerase chain reaction for pleural tuberculosis according to the amount of pleural effusion specimens

Sensitivity of polymerase chain reaction for pleural tuberculosis according to the amount of pleural effusion specimens
Jin W.M.
Ewha Authors
Issue Date
Journal Title
Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases
1738-3536JCR Link
vol. 62, no. 3, pp. 184 - 191
SCOPUS; KCI scopus
Background: For the diagnosis of pleural tuberculosis, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of pleural effusion specimens has shown very low sensitivity, which might be due to the small number of bacilli in the samples. The purpose of this investigation is to determine whether the sensitivity of PCR testing can be improved when increasing the amount of pleural effusion specimens. Methods: We prospectively analyzed pleural effusion specimens obtained from 53 patients for whom the exclusion of the possibility of tuberculous pleural effusion was necessary. We performed Mycobacterium tuberculosis PCR testing using the Cobas Amplicor MTB test (Roche Diagnostic Systems) with three different amounts (10ml, 25ml, and 50ml) of pleural effusion specimen in each patient. Pleural tuberculosis was defined as having one of the following: culture-positive pleural fluid sample, histopathologic finding consistent with tuberculosis on pleural biopsy, culture-positive sputum specimen, and/or positive response to anti-tuberculous medication without other possible causes of pleural effusion. Results: Of the 53 patients, 26 received the diagnosis of pleural tuberculosis. The sensitivities of AFB smearing, Mycobacterium tuberculosis culture of pleural effusion specimen, pleural biopsy, and measurement of ADA were 3.8%, 15.4%, 84.6%, and 88.5%, respectively. The results of PCR testing were positive for 3 (11.5%), 4 (15.4%), and 3 (11.5%) of the 26 patients when using 10ml, 25ml, and 50ml of pleural effusion specimens, respectively. These results did not show a statistically significant difference in the sensitivity of PCR testing when increasing the amount of pleural effusion samples (p>0.05, symmetry exact test). Conclusion: For specimens such as pleural effusion, in which the bacillary load is very low, the clinical utility of PCR testing seems highly limited with the kits designed for the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis. An increased amount of pleural effusion sample does not improve the sensitivity of PCR testing.
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