Diagnosing tuberculosis with urine lipoarabinomannan: systematic review and meta-analysis


Lipoarabinomannan (LAM) is a potential marker of active tuberculosis (TB). We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis regarding use of urinary LAM assays for diagnosing active TB.

We systematically searched for published and unpublished studies that evaluated urinary LAM for active TB diagnosis. Extracted data were pooled using bivariate random effects models and hierarchical summary receiver operating characteristic curves. Heterogeneity was explored through subgroup analysis and meta-regression. Quality was assessed according to standardised QUADAS (Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies) criteria.

In seven studies that assessed test accuracy in microbiologically confirmed cases only, estimates of sensitivity ranged from 13% to 93%, while specificity ranged from 87% to 99%. In five studies that assessed accuracy in clinical and confirmed TB cases, sensitivity ranged from 8% to 80%, while specificity ranged from 88% to 99%. In five studies with results stratified by HIV status, sensitivity was 3–53% higher in HIV-positive than HIV-negative subgroups; sensitivity was highest with advanced immunosuppression.

The LAM urinary assay has several characteristics that make it attractive for diagnosing active TB, but has suboptimal sensitivity for routine clinical use. Further studies are needed to evaluate the potential value of the LAM assay in individuals with advanced HIV or for diagnosis of paediatric TB.


Minion, J.; Leung, E.; Talbot, E.; Dheda, K.; Pai, M.; Menzies, D. Diagnosing tuberculosis with urine lipoarabinomannan: systematic review and meta-analysis. European Respiratory Journal (2011) 38 (6) 1398-1405. [DOI: 10.1183/09031936.00025711]

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