Microbiological diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis in children by oral swab polymerase chain reaction

Mark P Nicol, Rachel C Wood, Lesley Workman, Margaretha Prins, Cynthia Whitman, Yonas Ghebrekristos, Slindile Mbhele, Alaina Olson, Lisa E Jones-Engel, Heather J Zar, Gerard A Cangelosi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Microbiological diagnosis of pediatric pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) is challenging due to the difficulty of collecting and testing sputum from children. We investigated whether easily-obtained oral swab samples are useful alternatives or supplements to sputum. Oral swabs and induced sputum (IS) were collected from 201 South African children with suspected pulmonary TB. IS samples were tested by mycobacterial culture and Xpert MTB/RIF. Oral swabs were tested by PCR targeting IS6110. Children were categorized as Confirmed TB (microbiologic confirmation on IS), Unconfirmed TB (clinical diagnosis only), or Unlikely TB (recovery without TB treatment). Relative to Confirmed TB, PCR on two oral swabs per child was 43% sensitive and 93% specific. This sensitivity fell below that of sputum Xpert (64%). Among children with either Confirmed or Unconfirmed TB, PCR on two oral swabs per child was 31% sensitive and 93% specific, which was more sensitive than sputum testing among this group (21%). Although oral swab analysis had low sensitivity in sputum-positive children, it detected TB in a significant proportion of sputum-negative children who were clinically diagnosed with TB. Specificity at 93% was suboptimal but may improve with the use of automated methods. With further development, oral swabs may become useful supplements to sputum as samples for diagnosis of pulmonary TB in children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10789
JournalScientific Reports
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2019

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Nicol, M. P., Wood, R. C., Workman, L., Prins, M., Whitman, C., Ghebrekristos, Y., ... Cangelosi, G. A. (2019). Microbiological diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis in children by oral swab polymerase chain reaction. Scientific Reports, 9(1), 10789. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-47302-5