London: A new test developed recently to detect tuberculosis seems to be very effective in accurately tracing the disease early, according to a study carried out in several TB-prone countries, including India. The study involving over 6,600 people in six countries such as India, South Africa, Peru, Azerbaijan, the Philippines and Uganda found that the `Xpert MTB/RIF` test has been highly accurate in detecting the disease and its multi-drug resistant (MDR) form. The study, published online in the medical journal `The Lancet`, showed that the cartridge-based, automated diagnostic test can be used effectively in resource-poorsettings to rapidly diagnose those infected.
Unlike microscopy, MTB/RIF test sensitivity was not significantly lower in patients with HIV co-infection. Moreover, the median time for detection of tuberculosis via the MTB/RIF test was 0 days, compared with one day for microscopy, 30 days for solid culture and 16 daysfor liquid culture.Similarly, the median time for the detection of MDR was 20 days for line-probe assay and 106 days for conventional drug susceptibility testing. It was also found that use of the MTB/RIF test reduced median time to treatment for smear-negative tuberculosis from 56 days to five days. "Our study confirms the sensitivity of the MTB/RIF test for smear-positive and smear-negative tuberculosis, when undertaken in routine microscopy centres, and showed reduced, but good performance for detection of rifampicin resistance,"said the authors. "Furthermore, we suggest the MTB/RIF test can provide a substantially reduced time to detection and treatment for smear-negative tuberculosis," they said. However, they added that it needs to established whether early and appropriate treatment after MTB/RIF testing can cut tuberculosis-related morbidity and mortality and its effect on transmission. PTI
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