An open prospective clinical, microbiological, and molecular analysis of a national molecular diagnostic service for tuberculous meningitis (TBM) using an in-house IS6110-targeted PCR for molecular 'Fastrack' diagnosis was carried out. Between April 1997 and June 1998. Consecutive cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples from 131 patients were assessed. Against a culture on the same sample, PCR had a sensitivity of 75% and a specificity of 94%. Of samples from patients classified as definite or probable TBM cases based on clinical criteria, 81% had raised CSF protein levels and 73% had a lymphocytosis, although 57% of all submitted samples showed a raised lymphocyte count. While only 46% had a CSF glucose level below the normal range, the CSF glucose level was significantly lower (P = 0.0281) than in cases of meningitis of other etiologies. Levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha were also found to be significantly raised in definite or probable TBM cases (P = 0.028), while adenosine deaminase levels were not. The study showed IS6110-targeted PCR to be a rapid, sensitive, and specific test in routine use for the diagnosis of TBM.
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