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Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2014 Nov;33(11):2061-6. doi: 10.1007/s10096-014-2145-4. Epub 2014 Jun 15.

Service evaluation to establish the sensitivity, specificity and additional value of broad-range 16S rDNA PCR for the diagnosis of infective endocarditis from resected endocardial material in patients from eight UK and Ireland hospitals.

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Department of Microbiology, Virology and Infection Control, Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) for Children NHS Foundation Trust, Great Ormond Street, London, WC1N 3JH, UK,


Infective endocarditis (IE) can be diagnosed in the clinical microbiology laboratory by culturing explanted heart valve material. We present a service evaluation that examines the sensitivity and specificity of a broad-range 16S rDNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay for the detection of the causative microbe in culture-proven and culture-negative cases of IE. A clinical case-note review was performed for 151 patients, from eight UK and Ireland hospitals, whose endocardial specimens were referred to the Microbiology Laboratory at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) for broad-range 16S rDNA PCR over a 12-year period. PCR detects the causative microbe in 35/47 cases of culture-proven IE and provides an aetiological agent in 43/69 cases of culture-negative IE. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) of the 16S rDNA PCR assay were calculated for this series of selected samples using the clinical diagnosis of IE as the reference standard. The values obtained are as follows: sensitivity = 67 %, specificity = 91 %, PPV = 96 % and NPV = 46 %. A wide range of organisms are detected by PCR, with Streptococcus spp. detected most frequently and a relatively large number of cases of Bartonella spp. and Tropheryma whipplei IE. PCR testing of explanted heart valves is recommended in addition to culture techniques to increase diagnostic yield. The data describing the aetiological agents in a large UK and Ireland series of culture-negative IE will allow future development of the diagnostic algorithm to include real-time PCR assays targeted at specific organisms.

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