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New diagnostic methods for tuberculosis

Nyendak, Melissa Ra; Lewinsohn, Deborah Ab; Lewinsohn, David Mc

Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases: April 2009 - Volume 22 - Issue 2 - p 174–182
doi: 10.1097/QCO.0b013e3283262fe9
Respiratory infections: Edited by Michael S. Niederman

Purpose of review During the last decade, laboratory tests for the detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) have improved dramatically. Improvements in the ability to detect latent infection with Mtb, disease associated with Mtb, and strains resistant to commonly used antibiotics are reviewed.

Recent findings Advances in the detection of Mtb include light-emitting diode fluorescence microscopy, nucleic acid amplification of Mtb and drug-resistant strains, and more rapid liquid culture with adjunct drug susceptibility testing. In the detection of latent tuberculosis infection, interferon γ release assays offer improved accuracy over the tuberculin skin test.

Summary The past 10 years have seen the most rapid growth in new diagnostics for Mtb in over a century. Although these tests offer improvements in the ability to detect Mtb, drug-resistant isolates, and those with latent tuberculosis infection, these improvements are counter-balanced by the need to deploy these tests in areas where Mtb burden is highest.

aDivision of Infectious Diseases, USA

bDivision of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Oregon Health and Science University, USA

cDivision of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Portland VA Medical Center, Pulmonary and CCM, R&D 11, Portland, Oregon, USA

Correspondence to David M. Lewinsohn, MD, PhD, Associate Professor Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Portland VA Medical Center, Pulmonary and CCM, R&D 11, 3710 SW US Veterans Road, Portland, OR 97239, USA Tel: +1 503 721 1020; e-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.