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Sputum Test Quick, Accurate for Drug-Resistant TB

Microscopic-observation drug-susceptibility assay shows greater sensitivity and quicker results

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 11 (HealthDay News) -- A single microscopic-observation drug-susceptibility (MODS) assay of a sputum sample provides more sensitive and faster detection of tuberculosis and multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis than conventional methods, according to study findings published in the Oct. 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

David A.J. Moore, M.D., of the Centre for Clinical Tropical Medicine at Imperial College London in the U.K., and colleagues tested the MODS assay in three target groups of Peruvian patients: unselected patients with suspected tuberculosis, prescreened patients at high risk for tuberculosis or multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis, and unselected hospitalized patients infected with HIV.

The researchers found that 401 (10.7 percent) of 3,760 sputum samples tested positive for Mycobacterium tuberculosis. They found that MODS had a greater sensitivity (97.8 percent) compared to automated mycobacterial culture and Lowenstein-Jensen culture (89 and 84 percent, respectively) and a more rapid median time to culture positivity (seven days, compared with 13 and 26 days, respectively).

"The establishment of microbiology laboratories in countries with a high prevalence of tuberculosis and growing rates of drug-resistant tuberculosis should become one of the urgent priorities in the global fight against tuberculosis epidemics, especially in countries with limited resources," state the authors of an accompanying editorial. "The MODS technique may well move this process forward."

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