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J Clin Microbiol. 2004 Jun;42(6):2644-50.

Real-time PCR assay using fine-needle aspirates and tissue biopsy specimens for rapid diagnosis of mycobacterial lymphadenitis in children.

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  • 1Department of Medical Microbiology, E4-60, Center of Infectious Diseases, P.O. Box 9600, 2300 RC Leiden, The Netherlands.


A real-time PCR assay was developed to diagnose and identify the causative agents of suspected mycobacterial lymphadenitis. Primers and probes for the real-time PCR were designed on the basis of the internal transcribed spacer sequence, enabling the recognition of the genus Mycobacterium and the species Mycobacterium avium and M. tuberculosis. The detection limit for the assay was established at 1,100 CFU/ml of pus, and the specificity tests showed no false-positive reaction with other mycobacterial species and other pathogens causing lymphadenitis. From 67 children with suspected mycobacterial lymphadenitis based on a positive mycobacterial skin test, 102 samples (58 fine-needle aspirates [FNA] and 44 tissue specimens) were obtained. The real-time PCR assay detected a mycobacterial infection in 48 patients (71.6%), whereas auramine staining and culturing were positive for 31 (46.3%) and 28 (41.8%) of the patients. The addition of the real-time PCR assay to conventional diagnostic tests resulted in the recognition of 13 more patients with mycobacterial disease. These results indicate that the real-time PCR is more sensitive than conventional staining and culturing techniques (P = 0.006). The M. avium-specific real-time PCR was positive for 38 patients, and the M. tuberculosis-specific real-time PCR was positive for 1 patient. Analysis of 27 patients from whom FNA and tissue biopsy specimens were collected revealed significantly more positive real-time PCR results for FNA than for tissue biopsy specimens (P = 0.003). Samples from an age-matched control group of 50 patients with PCR-proven cat scratch disease were all found to be negative by the real-time PCR. We conclude that this real-time PCR assay with a sensitivity of 72% for patients with lymphadenitis and a specificity of 100% for the detection of atypical mycobacteria can provide excellent support for clinical decision making in children with lymphadenitis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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