Clinical Citations: A better technique for diagnosing community- acquired pneumonia?

December 1, 2005
The Journal of Respiratory Diseases Vol 5 No 12, Volume 5, Issue 12

Templeton and colleagues report encouraging news about the use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in the diagnosis of community- acquired pneumonia (CAP). They found that real-time PCR was more sensitive than conventional techniques for detecting major respiratory viruses and atypical bacteria.

Templeton and colleagues report encouraging news about the use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in the diagnosis of community- acquired pneumonia (CAP). They found that real-time PCR was more sensitive than conventional techniques for detecting major respiratory viruses and atypical bacteria.

The study included 105 adults who had symptoms and signs of pneumonia and an infiltrate on a chest radiograph. A microbiologic diagnosis was identified by conventional methods in 49.5% of patients and by real-time PCR in 76%. In particular, PCR was more sensitive for viruses, such as rhinoviruses and coronaviruses, and atypical bacteria. In addition, the time to obtain PCR results could be reduced to 6 hours.

PCR identified pathogens in 87% of patients who were older than 60 years and in more than 90% of patients who had severe CAP. Thus, PCR may be particularly useful in patients at highest risk.