The effectiveness of real-time PCR assay, compared with microbiologic results for the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis

Seo Woo Kim, Sae In Kim, Seok Jeong Lee, Jin Hwa Lee, Yun Ju Ryu, Sung Shine Shim, Yookyoung Kim, Mi Ae Lee, Jung Hyun Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: The incidence of tuberculosis (TB) in Korea is relatively high compared to the other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, with a prevalence of 71 per 100,000 in 2012, although the incidence is declining. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has been introduced for the rapid diagnosis of TB. Recently, its advantage lies in higher sensitivity and specificity for the diagnosis of TB. This study evaluated the clinical accuracy of real-time PCR using respiratory specimens in a clinical setting. Methods: Real-time PCR assays using sputum specimens and/or bronchoscopic aspirates from 2,877 subjects were reviewed retrospectively; 2,859 subjects were enrolled. The diagnosis of TB was determined by positive microbiology, pathological findings of TB in the lung and pleura, or clinical suspicion of active TB following anti-TB medication for more than 6 months with a favorable response. Results: Sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy were 44%, 99%, and 86% from sputum, and 65%, 97%, and 87% from bronchoscopic aspirates, respectively. For overall respiratory specimens, sensitivity was 59%, specificity was 98%, and accuracy increased to 89%. Conclusion: Positivity in real-time PCR using any respiratory specimens suggests the possibility of active TB in clinically suspected cases, guiding to start anti-TB medication. Real-time PCR from selective bronchoscopic aspirates enhances the diagnostic yield much more when added to sputum examination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalTuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2015 The Korean Academy of Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases. All rights reserved.


  • Bronchoscopy
  • Diagnosis
  • Pulmonary
  • Real-time polymerase chain reaction
  • Sputum
  • Tuberculosis


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