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Indian J Med Microbiol. 2011 Jul-Sep;29(3):293-6. doi: 10.4103/0255-0857.83916.

Comparison between the two-step and the three-step algorithms for the detection of toxigenic Clostridium difficile.

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  • 1Departments Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Medical Technologist, MBC: J-10, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Jeddah-Branch, PO Box 40047, Jeddah 21499, Saudi Arabia.



To evaluate usefulness of applying either the two-step algorithm (Ag-EIAs and CCNA) or the three-step algorithm (all three assays) for better confirmation of toxigenic Clostridium difficile. The antigen enzyme immunoassays (Ag-EIAs) can accurately identify the glutamate dehydrogenase antigen of toxigenic and nontoxigenic Clostridium difficile. Therefore, it is used in combination with a toxin-detecting assay [cell line culture neutralization assay (CCNA), or the enzyme immunoassays for toxins A and B (TOX-A/BII EIA)] to provide specific evidence of Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhoea.


A total of 151 nonformed stool specimens were tested by Ag-EIAs, TOX-A/BII EIA, and CCNA. All tests were performed according to the manufacturer's instructions and the results of Ag-EIAs and TOX-A/BII EIA were read using a spectrophotometer at a wavelength of 450 nm.


A total of 61 (40.7%), 38 (25.3%), and 52 (34.7%) specimens tested positive with Ag-EIA, TOX-A/BII EIA, and CCNA, respectively. Overall, the sensitivity, specificity, negative predictive value, and positive predictive value for Ag-EIA were 94%, 87%, 96.6%, and 80.3%, respectively. Whereas for TOX-A/BII EIA, the sensitivity, specificity, negative predictive value, and positive predictive value were 73.1%, 100%, 87.5%, and 100%, respectively. With the two-step algorithm, all 61 Ag-EIAs-positive cases required 2 days for confirmation. With the three-step algorithm, 37 (60.7%) cases were reported immediately, and the remaining 24 (39.3%) required further testing by CCNA. By applying the two-step algorithm, the workload and cost could be reduced by 28.2% compared with the three-step algorithm.


The two-step algorithm is the most practical for accurately detecting toxigenic Clostridium difficile, but it is time-consuming.

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