Short-chain organic acids are byproducts of bacterial metabolism, and their detection by gas-liquid chromatography (GLC) in amniotic fluid has been proposed as a rapid, sensitive, and specific method for the diagnosis of infection. This study was conducted to determine whether GLC analysis of amniotic fluid would be helpful in a population of women in whom the Gram stain examination was negative. Amniotic fluid was retrieved by transabdominal amniocentesis from three groups of patients. Group 1 (negative control) contained 14 women with term pregnancies without clinical and microbiologic evidence of infection of the amniotic cavity; group 2 (positive control) included 17 women with a positive Gram stain examination and culture of amniotic fluid; group 3 (study group) comprised 25 women at risk for intra-amniotic infection who had a negative Gram stain of amniotic fluid. None of the patients in group 1 and 16 of 17 patients (94.1%) in group 2 had pathologic short-chain organic acids in the amniotic fluid. Seven of the 25 patients in group 3 had a positive amniotic fluid culture and only two had an abnormal GLC pattern. Of the remaining 18 patients with negative amniotic fluid cultures, eight had abnormal GLC results. In group 3, the sensitivity of GLC was 28.5% and the specificity was 55.5%. Gas-liquid chromatographic analysis of amniotic fluid has limited clinical value in the prediction of amniotic fluid culture when the Gram stain examination is negative.
© 1988 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists