Background: The XpertMTB/RIFtest (Cepheid, Sunnyvale, CA, USA) can detect tuberculosis and its multidrug-resistant form with very high sensitivity and specificity in controlled studies, but no performance data exist from district and subdistrict health facilities in tuberculosis-endemic countries. We aimed to assess operational feasibility, accuracy, and effectiveness of implementation in such settings.
Methods: We assessed adults (≥18 years) with suspected tuberculosis or multidrug-resistant tuberculosis consecutively presenting with cough lasting at least 2 weeks to urban health centres in South Africa, Peru, and India, drug-resistance screening facilities in Azerbaijan and the Philippines, and an emergency room in Uganda. Patients were excluded from the main analyses if their second sputum sample was collected more than 1 week after the first sample, or if no valid reference standard or MTB/RIFtest was available. We compared one-off direct MTB/RIF testing in nine microscopy laboratories adjacent to study sites with 2–3 sputum smears and 1–3 cultures, dependent on site, and drug-susceptibility testing. We assessed indicators of robustness including indeterminate rate and between-site performance, and compared time to detection, reporting, and treatment, and patient dropouts for the techniques used.
Findings: We enrolled 6648 participants between Aug 11, 2009, and June 26, 2010. One-off MTB/RIF testing detected 933 (90·3%) of 1033 culture-confirmed cases of tuberculosis, compared with 699 (67·1%) of 1041 for microscopy. MTB/RIFtest sensitivity was 76·9% in smear-negative, culture-positive patients (296 of 385 samples), and 99·0% specific (2846 of 2876 non-tuberculosis samples). MTB/RIFtest sensitivity for rifampicin resistance was 94·4% (236 of 250) and specificity was 98·3% (796 of 810). Unlike microscopy, MTB/RIFtest sensitivity was not significantly lower in patients with HIV co-infection. Median time to detection of tuberculosis for the MTB/RIFtest was 0 days (IQR 0–1), compared with 1 day (0–1) for microscopy, 30 days (23–43) for solid culture, and 16 days (13–21) for liquid culture. Median time to detection of resistance was 20 days (10–26) for line-probe assay and 106 days (30–124) for conventional drug-susceptibility testing. Use of the MTB/RIFtest reduced median time to treatment for smear-negative tuberculosis from 56 days (39–81) to 5 days (2–8). The indeterminate rate of MTB/RIF testing was 2·4% (126 of 5321 samples) compared with 4·6% (441 of 9690) for cultures.
Interpretation: The MTB/RIFtest can effectively be used in low-resource settings to simplify patients' access to early and accurate diagnosis, thereby potentially decreasing morbidity associated with diagnostic delay, dropout and mistreatment.
Boehme, C.C.; Nicol, M.P.; Nabeta, P.; Michael, J.S.; Gotuzzo, E.; Tahirli, R.; Gler, M.T.; Blakemore, R.; Worodria, W.; Gray, C.; Huang, L.; Caceres, T.; Mehdiyev, R.; Raymond, L.; Whitelaw, A.; Sagadevan, K.; Alexander, H.; Albert, H.; Cobelens, F.; Cox, H.; Alland, D.; Perkins, M.D. Feasibility, diagnostic accuracy, and effectiveness of decentralised use of the Xpert MTB/RIF test for diagnosis of tuberculosis and multidrug resistance: a multicentre implementation study. Lancet (2011) 377 (9776) 1495-1505. [DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60438-8]