ABSTRACT: To compare four laboratory methods in the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis.
Respiratory secretion specimens were collected from 160 patients suspected of having pulmonary tuberculosis. Direct testing for Mycobacterium tuberculosis was carried out using Ziehl-Neelsen and auramine staining. In addition, culture in Löwenstein-Jensen (LJ) medium and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) were used. The strains isolated were identified by means of a radiometric method using p-nitro-alpha-acetylamino-beta-hydroxypropiophenone (NAP) and classical methods. The sensitivity of the methods was compared to the gold standard for the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis, based on clinical, radiological and microbiological criteria.
Of the 160 patients, 142 were diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis according to the gold standard. The sensitivity of Ziehl-Neelsen staining, auramine staining, culture in LJ medium and PCR was 54.2%, 58.4%, 67.6% and 77.5%, respectively, when compared with the diagnostic criterion adopted. All four methods presented 100% specificity. In the identification of mycobacteria, there was high (96.8%) concordance between PCR and the radiometric method using NAP. The sensitivity of PCR was 50.8% in samples with negative sputum smear microscopy results and 98.8% in those with positive results. The sensitivity of PCR was lower in specimens with negative results in sputum smear microscopy and culture than in those with positive results (25.6% and 99.0%, respectively).
We found PCR to be a promising method for the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis, even in paucibacillary specimens. Simultaneous identification and faster results are additional advantages of this method.
Jornal brasileiro de pneumologia: publicacao oficial da Sociedade Brasileira de Pneumologia e Tisilogia 01/2009; 34(12):1056-62.