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Lancet Infect Dis. 2013 Feb;13(2):147-54. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(12)70232-3. Epub 2012 Oct 23.

Diagnostic accuracy of same-day microscopy versus standard microscopy for pulmonary tuberculosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Author information

1
Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Division, San Francisco General Hospital, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA. lucian.davis@ucsf.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Sputum smear microscopy is the most widely available diagnostic test for pulmonary tuberculosis in countries with a high burden of the disease. Improving its accuracy is crucial to achievement of case-detection targets established by the Millennium Development Goals. Unfortunately, many patients are unable to submit all of the specimens needed for examination or to return for treatment because standard sputum collection and reporting requires several clinic visits. To inform policy recommendations by a WHO-convened Expert Group, we aimed to assess the accuracy of sputum smear examination with strategies for obtaining sputum on 1 day compared with strategies for obtaining sputum over 2 days.

METHODS:

We did a systematic review and meta-analysis of research articles comparing the accuracy of front-loaded or same-day microscopy and standard sputum smear microscopy for diagnosis of culture-confirmed pulmonary tuberculosis. We searched Medline, Embase, Biosis, and Web of Science for articles published between Jan 1, 2005, and Feb 14, 2012. Two investigators identified eligible articles and extracted data for individual study sites. We generated pooled summary estimates (95% CIs) for sensitivity and specificity by use of random-effects meta-analysis when four or more studies were available.

FINDINGS:

We identified eight relevant studies from five articles enrolling 7771 patients with suspected tuberculosis in low-income countries. Compared with the standard approach of examination of two smears with Ziehl-Neelsen light microscopy over 2 days, examination of two smears taken on the same day had much the same sensitivity (64% [95% CI 60 to 69] for standard microscopy vs 63% [58 to 68] for same-day microscopy) and specificity (98% [97 to 99] vs 98% [97 to 99]). We noted similar results for studies employing light-emitting diode fluorescence microscopy and for studies examining three smears, whether they were compared with two-smear strategies or with one another.

INTERPRETATION:

Same-day sputum smear microscopy is as accurate as standard smear microscopy. Data from tuberculosis programmes are needed to document the changes required in the health system to successfully implement the strategy and understand its effects.

FUNDING:

WHO and US National Institutes of Health.

Comment in

PMID:
23099183
PMCID:
PMC3836432
DOI:
10.1016/S1473-3099(12)70232-3
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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