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Mol Diagn Ther. 2010 Aug 1;14(4):205-14. doi: 10.2165/11538430-000000000-00000.

The role of rapid antigen testing for influenza in the era of molecular diagnostics.

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1
Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, McMaster University, and Hamilton Regional Laboratory Medicine Program, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. dales@hhsc.ca

Abstract

Rapid antigen testing for influenza has been both maligned and revered since its conception. Microbiologists have long lamented the lack of sensitivity of commercial rapid influenza detection tests (RIDTs), whereas many clinicians have eschewed their utility by emphasizing the value of definitely diagnosing influenza at the patient's bedside. RIDTs, although quick and easy to perform, are widely accepted as being less sensitive than traditional culture techniques and newer molecular methods, including reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Moreover, the performance characteristics of RIDTs vary widely, and their applications as clinical diagnostic tools are not well understood. In contrast, traditional techniques are time consuming and require significant expertise to perform. Often, the delay in diagnosing influenza through these methods has little impact on patient care. The benefits of achieving a diagnosis of influenza at the point of care are numerous and include increased access to appropriate antivirals, appropriate patient cohorting for infection control purposes, and better resource utilization. Therefore, it behooves the microbiology community to communicate these issues to clinicians and to work to improve the sensitivity of RIDTs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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