New test can rule out TB in 48 hours

Clinicians can rule out TB infection in 48 hours with a new testing technique, claim UK scientists.

Although culture tests are able to confirm TB infection after several weeks, a highly sensitive method for ruling out TB has so far been missing.

The enzyme-linked immunospot assay (ELISpot)-Plus test can distinguish between TB antigens due to vaccination with BCG and those caused by TB infection, unlike the standard tuberculin skin test.

The research showed that sensitivity for culture-confirmed TB infection was 89 per cent with ELISpot-Plus, compared with 79 per cent for skin testing alone. In combination, the tests had a sensitivity of 99 per cent.

Rachel.liddle@haymarket.com

Ann Intern Med 2008; 148: 325-36

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