Diagnostic accuracy of PCR alone and compared to urinary antigen testing for detection of Legionella spp. A systematic review

Tomer Avni, Amir Bieber, Hefziba Green, Tali Steinmetz, Leonard Leibovici, Mical Paul

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

The diagnosis of Legionnaires' disease (LD) is based on the isolation of Legionella spp., a 4-fold rise in antibodies, a positive urinary antigen (UA), or direct immunofluorescence tests. PCR is not accepted as a diagnostic tool for LD. This systematic review assesses the diagnostic accuracy of PCR in various clinical samples with a direct comparison versus UA. We included prospective or retrospective cohort and case-control studies. Studies were included if they used the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consensus definition criteria of LD or a similar one, assessed only patients with clinical pneumonia, and reported data for all true-positive, false-positive, true-negative, and false-negative results. Two reviewers abstracted data independently. Risk of bias was assessed using Quadas-2. Summary sensitivity and specificity values were estimated using a bivariate model and reported with a 95% confidence interval (CI). Thirty-eight studies were included. A total of 653 patients had confirmed LD, and 3,593 patients had pneumonia due to other pathogens. The methodological quality of the studies as assessed by the Quadas-2 tool was poor to fair. The summary sensitivity and specificity values for diagnosis of LD in respiratory samples were 97.4% (95% CI, 91.1% to 99.2%) and 98.6% (95% CI, 97.4% to 99.3%), respectively. These results were mainly unchanged by any covariates tested and subgroup analysis. The diagnostic performance of PCR in respiratory samples was much better than that of UA. Compared to UA, PCR in respiratory samples (especially in sputum samples or swabs) revealed a significant advantage in sensitivity and an additional diagnosis of 18% to 30% of LD cases. The diagnostic performance of PCR in respiratory samples was excellent and preferable to that of the UA. Results were independent on the covariate tested. PCR in respiratory samples should be regarded as a valid tool for the diagnosis of LD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-411
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Volume54
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2016

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