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J Clin Virol. 2002 Jul;25 Suppl 1:S19-26.

The impact of an enteroviral RT-PCR assay on the diagnosis of aseptic meningitis and patient management.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Albany Medical College, 47 New Scotland Avenue, Albany, NY 12208, USA.



Enterovirus (EV) is a major cause of aseptic meningitis and non-specific febrile illness in children. Since the majority of patients are hospitalized for possible bacterial infection, a rapid test for the diagnosis of enteroviral meningitis (EVM) may reduce hospitalizations and unnecessary treatments.


To review the impact of an EV reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay for the diagnosis of EVM on patient management.


CSF from 1056 patients admitted to the hospital between 1998 and 2001 was tested using EV RT-PCR. The results were correlated with CSF counts, diagnosis, test turnaround time (TAT) and length of hospital stay (LOS).


EV RT-PCR was positive for 113 patients (11%). Of these cases, 92% occurred during the summer months and 77% were in children <19 years of age. Children <3 years old with EVM frequently had non-specific clinical findings and lacked pleocytosis. There was a significant correlation between decreasing LOS and TAT (r(2)=0.97, P<0.001).


RT-PCR testing for EVM is an important tool to aid in the diagnosis of children with non-specific febrile illness. This test impacted patient management as measured by shortened patient stays, which should translate into significant health care savings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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