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Clin Infect Dis. 2001 Jan;32(1):17-22. Epub 2000 Dec 8.

Comparison of amplicor, in-house polymerase chain reaction, and conventional culture for the diagnosis of tuberculosis in children.

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Department of Pediatrics, University Children's Hospital, Seville, Spain.


A total of 251 clinical specimens (235 gastric aspirates and 16 bronchoalveolar lavages) from 88 children were prospectively tested in a blinded manner for the presence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, by use of the Amplicor M. tuberculosis test and by means of in-house polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The results were compared with those obtained by conventional culture and by direct microscopy. All of the children underwent extended follow-up to verify or exclude the clinical diagnosis of tuberculosis. The results of the different tests, when compared to the final clinical diagnosis, were a sensitivity of 60% and a specificity of 96.8% for in-house PCR, 44% and 93.7% respectively for the Amplicor test, 44% and 100% for mycobacterial culture and 12% and 100% for microscopy. Amplicor tests presented false-positive findings in children without tuberculous infection. We conclude that both in-house PCR and the Amplicor test are rapid methods that can be helpful for difficult or urgent diagnosis of tuberculosis in children. However, efforts should be aimed toward improvement of the sensitivity and specificity of an easy-to-use PCR kit.

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