Use of GeneXpert and the role of an expert panel in improving clinical diagnosis of smearnegative tuberculosis cases

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© 2019 Abong et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Setting A high proportion of notified tuberculosis cases in the Philippines are clinically diagnosed (63%) as opposed to bacteriologically confirmed. Better understanding of this phenomenon is required to improve tuberculosis control. Objectives To determine the percentage of smear negative presumptive tuberculosis patients that would be diagnosed by GeneXpert; compare clinical characteristics of patients diagnosed as tuberculosis cases; and review the impact that the current single government physician and a reconstituted Tuberculosis Diagnostic committee (expert panel) may have on tuberculosis over-diagnosis. Design This a cross-sectional study of 152 patients 15-85 years old with two negative Direct Sputum Smear Microscopy results, with abnormal chest X-ray who underwent GeneXpert testing and review by an expert panel. Results Thirty-two percent (48/152) of the sample were Xpert positive and 93% (97/104) of GeneXpert negatives were clinically diagnosed by a single physician. Typical symptoms and X-ray findings were higher in bacteriologically confirmed tuberculosis. When compared to the GeneXpert results the Expert panel's sensitivity for active tuberculosis was high (97.5%, 39/ 40), specificity was low (40.2%, 35/87). Conclusion Using the GeneXpert would increase the level of bacteriologically confirmed tuberculosis substantially among presumptive tuberculosis. An expert panel will greatly reduce overdiagnosis usually seen when a decision is made by a single physician.

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