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Trop Doct. 2003 Jul;33(3):160-2.

Evaluation of the concentration sputum smear technique for the laboratory diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis.

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Department of Medical Microbiology & Parasitology, Jimma University, PO Box 310, Jimma, Ethiopia.


The microbiological diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) plays a key role in routine and Tuberculosis (TB) Control Programmes in developing countries. Concentration of acid-fast bacilli (AFB) in clinical specimens is an important step in the laboratory diagnosis of mycobacterial diseases. Microscopy of smears of sputum by direct and after mechanical sedimentation and centrifugation methods followed by treatment with 5% sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) solution for concentration of the organisms were compared and evaluated. The rate of recovery of AFB from sputum was 8.5%, 25.5% and 38.0% for direct smear microscopy, concentration by sedimentation of NaOCl-treated sputa followed by Ziehl-Neelsen staining and concentration by centrifugation after use of NaOCl respectively. Both the concentration methods by the use of NaOCl solution increased the yield of theAFB by more than threefold compared with the direct microscopy of sputum (P < 0.05). The concentration methods by sedimentation, and centrifugation by the treatment of NaOCl, increased the sensitivity to 75% and 77.9%, respectively, and the specificity to 100% for both techniques. In conclusion, the use of NaOCl in the concentration of AFB in sputum is recommended for use in routine laboratory diagnosis of PTB in developing countries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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