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J Clin Microbiol. Jun 1997; 35(6): 1492–1498.
PMCID: PMC229773

Multiplex PCR assay for immediate identification of the infecting species in patients with mycobacterial disease.

Abstract

Rapid identification of infecting mycobacterial species enables appropriate medical care decisions to be made. Our aim was to demonstrate the clinical usefulness of the multiplex PCR assay, a test based on PCR, which permits direct identification of 12 mycobacterial species in clinical specimens. A total of 259 specimens from 177 patients who had clinical symptoms of mycobacterial disease but for whom there were difficulties in diagnosis were tested. Specimens were analyzed within 48 h of receipt of the sample. Mycobacteria were identified in 102 specimens; 66 specimens contained nontuberculous mycobacteria, and 36 specimens contained Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex mycobacteria. The PCR assay identified the mycobacterial species in 43 (97.7%) of 44 microscopy- and culture-positive specimens and in 15 (93.8%) of 16 culture-positive, microscopy-negative specimens. It also permitted species identification in infections caused by more than one mycobacterial species. For 56 (96.5%) of the 58 specimens from patients with infections caused by opportunistic mycobacteria, the organisms were identified with the PCR assay. The test was useful also for the identification of fastidious mycobacteria, e.g., M. genavense, and those that cannot be cultured, e.g., M. leprae. After resolution of discrepant results, the sensitivity of the PCR assay was 97.9%, the specificity was 96.9%, the positive predictive value was 95.0%, and the negative predictive value was 98.7%. For culture these values were 60.8, 100, 100, and 81.0%, respectively. Thus, the multiplex PCR assay enables prompt diagnosis when rapid identification of infecting mycobacteria is necessary.

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Selected References

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