Introduction. Pneumonia is highly prevalent in intensive care units (ICUs), with high associated mortality. Empirical treatment prioritizes breadth of coverage while awaiting laboratory diagnosis, often at the expense of antimicrobial stewardship. Microarrays use multiple parallel polymerase chain reactions to enable a rapid syndromic approach to laboratory diagnosis.
Aim. To evaluate the clinical and laboratory implications of introducing a bespoke 22-pathogen TaqMan Array Card (TAC) for rapid pathogen detection in deep respiratory samples from adult ICUs.
Methodology. TAC results from all ICU patients prospectively tested over a 9-month period at Cambridge’s Clinical Microbiology and Public Health Laboratory were compared to those of corresponding conventional microbiological assays (culture-, PCR- or serology-based) in terms of result agreement and time-to-result availability. Clinical impact was assessed by retrospective review of medical records.
Results. Seventy-one patients were included [45 (63%) male, median age 59). Overall result agreement was 94%, with TAC detecting more pathogens than conventional methods. TAC detected Streptococcus pneumoniae more readily than culture (7 vs 0 cases; P=0.02). TAC did not detect Aspergillus spp. in eight culture- or galactomannan-positive cases. The median turnaround time (1 day) was significantly shorter than that of bacterial/fungal culture, Pneumocystis jirovecii PCR and galactomannan testing (each 3 days; P<0.001), atypical bacteria serology (13 days; P<0.001) and Mycobacterium tuberculosis culture (46 days; P<0.001). Earlier result availability prompted discontinuation of unnecessary antimicrobials in 15/71 (21%) cases, but had no bearing on patient isolation/deisolation.
Conclusion. TAC provided greater overall yield of pathogen detection and faster turnaround times, permitting earlier discontinuation of unnecessary antimicrobials.
- Critical care
- Intensive care units
- Molecular diagnostic techniques