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Br J Ophthalmol. 1998 Sep;82(9):1078-82.

Polymerase chain reaction in the diagnosis of bacterial endophthalmitis.

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Vision Research Foundation, Chennai, India.



Microbiological investigations of vitreous fluid (VF) and aqueous humour (AH) specimens have often failed to detect the infecting agent in infectious endophthalmitis, resulting in a clinical dilemma regarding therapy. In this study, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was evaluated in the diagnosis of bacterial and Propionibacterium acnes endophthalmitis.


58 intraocular specimens (30 VF and 28 AH) from 55 cases of endophthalmitis and 20 specimens (14 VF and 6 AH) as controls from non-infective disorders were processed for microbiological investigations. Nested PCR directed at the 16S rDNA using universal primers for eubacterial genome was done. PCR for P acnes was performed on specimens microbiologically negative by conventional techniques but eubacterial genome positive.


Of the 20 controls from non-infective cases, one (5%) was positive using eubacterial primers and none with P acnes primers. PCR for eubacterial genome showed 100% correlation with 20 (34.5%) bacteriologically positive specimens. Eubacterial genome, was detected in 17 (44.7%) of 38 bacteriologically negative specimens and nine (52.9%) out of the 17 were positive for P acnes genome. Among the 21 eubacterial PCR negative specimens, seven were fungus positive. By inclusion of PCR, microbiologically positive specimens increased from 46.5% to 75.8%. PCR on AH was as sensitive as that on VF for the detection of both eubacterial and the P acnes genome.


PCR performed on AH and VF is a reliable tool for the diagnosis of bacterial and P acnes endophthalmitis particularly in smear and culture negative specimens.

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