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Spot sputum samples are at least as good as early morning samples for identifying Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Murphy, ME; Phillips, PJ; Mendel, CM; Bongard, E; Bateson, AL; Hunt, R; Murthy, S; ... Lipman, M; + view all (2017) Spot sputum samples are at least as good as early morning samples for identifying Mycobacterium tuberculosis. BMC Medicine , 15 , Article 192. 10.1186/s12916-017-0947-9. Green open access

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Abstract

Background The use of early morning sputum samples (EMS) to diagnose tuberculosis (TB) can result in treatment delay given the need for the patient to return to the clinic with the EMS, increasing the chance of patients being lost during their diagnostic workup. However, there is little evidence to support the superiority of EMS over spot sputum samples. In this new analysis of the REMoxTB study, we compare the diagnostic accuracy of EMS with spot samples for identifying Mycobacterium tuberculosis pre- and post-treatment. Methods Patients who were smear positive at screening were enrolled into the study. Paired sputum samples (one EMS and one spot) were collected at each trial visit pre- and post-treatment. Microscopy and culture on solid LJ and liquid MGIT media were performed on all samples; those missing corresponding paired results were excluded from the analyses. Results Data from 1115 pre- and 2995 post-treatment paired samples from 1931 patients enrolled in the REMoxTB study were analysed. Patients were recruited from South Africa (47%), East Africa (21%), India (20%), Asia (11%), and North America (1%); 70% were male, median age 31 years (IQR 24–41), 139 (7%) co-infected with HIV with a median CD4 cell count of 399 cells/μL (IQR 318–535). Pre-treatment spot samples had a higher yield of positive Ziehl–Neelsen smears (98% vs. 97%, P = 0.02) and LJ cultures (87% vs. 82%, P = 0.006) than EMS, but there was no difference for positivity by MGIT (93% vs. 95%, P = 0.18). Contaminated and false-positive MGIT were found more often with EMS rather than spot samples. Surprisingly, pre-treatment EMS had a higher smear grading and shorter time-to-positivity, by 1 day, than spot samples in MGIT culture (4.5 vs. 5.5 days, P < 0.001). There were no differences in time to positivity in pre-treatment LJ culture, or in post-treatment MGIT or LJ cultures. Comparing EMS and spot samples in those with unfavourable outcomes, there were no differences in smear or culture results, and positive results were not detected earlier in Kaplan–Meier analyses in either EMS or spot samples. Conclusions Our data do not support the hypothesis that EMS samples are superior to spot sputum samples in a clinical trial of patients with smear positive pulmonary TB. Observed small differences in mycobacterial burden are of uncertain significance and EMS samples do not detect post-treatment positives any sooner than spot samples.

Type: Article
Title: Spot sputum samples are at least as good as early morning samples for identifying Mycobacterium tuberculosis
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s12916-017-0947-9
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-017-0947-9
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author(s). 2017 This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Keywords: Tuberculosis, Smear microscopy, Early morning sputum, Spot sputum, Diagnostics
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Infection and Immunity
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Medicine
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Medicine > Respiratory Medicine
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Inst of Clinical Trials and Methodology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Inst of Clinical Trials and Methodology > MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10027625
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