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Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests in TB Patients

Open Forum Infect Dis; ePub 2016 Nov 1; Peralta, et al

Time to treatment initiation could be decreased with the increased use of nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) in the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis (TB), a recent study found. The retrospective review included surveillance data from 6,051 patients with culture-confirmed pulmonary TB who reported to the California TB registry during 2010 to 2013. Researchers found:

  • 2,336 (39%) patients had a NAAT for diagnosis prior to culture results.
  • 90% (n=2,101) with NAAT had positive test results; 9% (n=217) had falsely negative NAAT results; and 0.8% (n=18) had indeterminate NAAT results.
  • Median time from specimen collection to TB treatment initiation was shorter when NAAT was used (3 vs 14 days).
  • Patients with a positive NAAT result initiated treatment earlier than patients with a falsely negative result (1 vs 11 days).


Peralta G, Barry P, Pascopella L. Use of nucleic acid amplification tests in tuberculosis patients in California, 2010-2013. [Published online ahead of print November 1, 2016]. Open Forum Infect Dis. doi:10.1093/ofid/ofw230.