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Arch Neurol. 1999 Oct;56(10):1215-9.

Polymerase chain reaction in the diagnosis and management of central nervous system infections.

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Department of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, USA.


Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a broadly applied laboratory test for the diagnosis of a wide variety of central nervous system (CNS) diseases, including genetic and autoimmune diseases, malignant neoplasms, and infections. With its ability to detect minute amounts of DNA or RNA contained in tissues or fluids, PCR has improved the rapidity and accuracy of diagnosis, enhanced understanding of pathogenesis, and helped identify infectious causes for diseases previously considered idiopathic. In addition, PCR can be performed on a variety of tissues preserved in different ways--even archival specimens can be used to provide important epidemiological information. By making quick and precise diagnoses, appropriate treatments can be instituted, and unnecessary or invasive investigations can be avoided.

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