Diagnostic accuracy of intracellular mycobacterium tuberculosis detection for tuberculous meningitis.
Feng G-D., Shi M., Ma L., Chen P., Wang B-J., Zhang M., Chang X-L., Su X-C., Yang Y-N., Fan X-H., Dai W., Liu T-T., He Y., Bian T., Duan L-X., Li J-G., Hao X-K., Liu J-Y., Xue X., Song Y-Z., Wu H-Q., Niu G-Q., Zhang L., Han C-J., Lin H., Lin Z-H., Liu J-J., Jian Q., Zhang J-S., Tian Y., Zhou B-Y., Wang J., Xue C-H., Han X-F., Wang J-F., Wang S-L., Thwaites GE., Zhao G.
RATIONALE: Early diagnosis and treatment of tuberculous meningitis saves lives, but current laboratory diagnostic tests lack sensitivity. OBJECTIVES: We investigated whether the detection of intracellular bacteria by a modified Ziehl-Neelsen stain and early secretory antigen target (ESAT)-6 in cerebrospinal fluid leukocytes improves tuberculous meningitis diagnosis. METHODS: Cerebrospinal fluid specimens from patients with suspected tuberculous meningitis were stained by conventional Ziehl-Neelsen stain, a modified Ziehl-Neelsen stain involving cytospin slides with Triton processing, and an ESAT-6 immunocytochemical stain. Acid-fast bacteria and ESAT-6-expressing leukocytes were detected by microscopy. All tests were performed prospectively in a central laboratory by experienced technicians masked to the patients' final diagnosis. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Two hundred and eighty patients with suspected tuberculous meningitis were enrolled. Thirty-seven had Mycobacterium tuberculosis cultured from cerebrospinal fluid; 40 had a microbiologically confirmed alternative diagnosis; the rest had probable or possible tuberculous meningitis according to published criteria. Against a clinical diagnostic gold standard the sensitivity of conventional Ziehl-Neelsen stain was 3.3% (95% confidence interval, 1.6-6.7%), compared with 82.9% (95% confidence interval, 77.4-87.3%) for modified Ziehl-Neelsen stain and 75.1% (95% confidence interval, 68.8-80.6%) for ESAT-6 immunostain. Intracellular bacteria were seen in 87.8% of the slides positive by the modified Ziehl-Neelsen stain. The specificity of modified Ziehl-Neelsen and ESAT-6 stain was 85.0% (95% confidence interval, 69.4-93.8%) and 90.0% (95% confidence interval, 75.4-96.7%), respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Enhanced bacterial detection by simple modification of the Ziehl-Neelsen stain and an ESAT-6 intracellular stain improve the laboratory diagnosis of tuberculous meningitis.