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Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2004 Feb;8(2):248-52.

Reduced detection by Ziehl-Neelsen method of acid-fast bacilli in sputum samples preserved in cetylpyridinium chloride solution.

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Tuberculosis Research Centre (Indian Council of Medical Research), Chennai, India.



Twelve health facilities implementing the DOTS strategy, and the Tuberculosis Research Centre (TRC), Chennai, India.


To determine the detection rates using Ziehl-Neelsen (ZN) and auramine-phenol to stain acid-fast bacilli (AFB) in sputum samples stored in cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) solution.


Two smears were prepared from each of 988 sputum samples collected in CPC and randomly allocated, one to ZN and the other to auramine-phenol staining. All samples were processed for culture of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.


A significantly higher proportion of samples were negative using the ZN method compared to the auramine-phenol method (74.5% vs. 61.8%, McNamara's paired chi2 test; P < 0.001). Among 377 samples that were positive using auramine-phenol, 44% were negative using ZN. There were more culture-positive, smear-negative samples in ZN (52.7%) than in auramine-phenol (30%); the difference attained statistical significance (McNemar's paired chi2 test; P < 0.00004). Using ZN, of the 104 smears made immediately after collection, 52 were positive for AFB, of which only 35 (67.3%) were positive after storage in CPC; the reduction in the number of positive smears attained statistical significance (McNemar's paired chi2 test; P = 0.004).


Detection of AFB in sputum samples preserved in CPC is significantly reduced using ZN staining.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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