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Clin Infect Dis. 2003 Jan 1;36(1):40-5. Epub 2002 Dec 12.

Broad-range bacterial polymerase chain reaction for early detection of bacterial meningitis.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Molecular Biology Research Laboratory, St. John Hospital and Medical Center, and Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI 48236 , USA. louis.saravolatz@stjohn.org


The diagnosis of bacterial meningitis often depends on isolation of bacteria on culture, which may take 24-48 h. DNA amplification techniques could provide rapid diagnosis, which would guide the clinician in antimicrobial therapy decisions. This study determined the clinical utility of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for the diagnosis of meningitis with use of a broad range of bacterial primers. Seventy-four cerebrospinal fluid specimens obtained from 70 patients were subjected to PCR with use of primers derived from conserved regions of the bacterial 16S RNA gene. The test characteristics for the broad-range bacterial PCR were as follows: sensitivity, 100%; specificity, 98.2%; positive predictive value, 94.4%; and negative predictive value, 100%. Broad-range bacterial PCR may be useful for excluding the diagnosis of meningitis, and the results may influence the decision to initiate or discontinue antimicrobial therapy.

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