Screening tests to detect Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections--2002

MMWR Recomm Rep. 2002 Oct 18;51(RR-15):1-38; quiz CE1-4.


Since publication of CDC's 1993 guidelines (CDC, Recommendations for the prevention and management of Chlamydia trachomatis infections, 1993. MMWR 1993;42[No. RR-12]:1-39), nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) have been introduced as critical new tools to diagnose and treat C. trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections. NAATs for C. trachomatis are substantially more sensitive than previous tests. When using a NAAT, any sacrifice in performance when urine is substituted for a traditional swab specimen is limited, thus reducing dependence on invasive procedures and expanding the venues where specimens can be obtained. NAATs can also detect both C. trachomatis and N. gonorrhoeae organisms in the same specimen. However, NAATs are usually more expensive than previous tests, making test performance from an economic perspective a key consideration. This report updates the 1993 guidelines for selecting laboratory tests for C. trachomatis with an emphasis on screening men and women in the United States. (In this report, screening refers to testing persons in the absence of symptoms or signs indicating C. trachomatis or N. gonorrhoeae infection.) In addition, these guidelines consider tests from an economic perspective and expand the previous guidelines to address detection of N. gonorrhoeae as well as C. trachomatis infections. Because of the increased cost of NAATs, certain laboratories are modifying manufacturers' procedures to improve test sensitivity without incurring the full cost associated with screening with a NAAT. Such approaches addressed in these guidelines are pooling of specimens before testing with a NAAT and additional testing of specimens whose non-NAAT test result is within a gray zone. This report also addresses the need for additional testing after a positive screening test to improve the specificity of a final diagnosis. To prepare these guidelines, CDC staff identified pertinent concerns, compiled the related literature published during 1990 or later, prepared tables of evidence, and drafted recommendations. Consultants, selected for their expertise or disciplinary and organizational affiliations, reviewed the draft recommendations. These final guidelines are the recommendations of CDC staff who considered contributions from scientific consultants. These guidelines are intended for laboratorians, clinicians, and managers who must choose among the multiple available tests, establish standard operating procedures for collecting and processing specimens, interpret test results for laboratory reporting, and counsel and treat patients.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Bacterial / analysis
  • Cervix Uteri / microbiology
  • Chlamydia Infections / diagnosis*
  • Chlamydia trachomatis / isolation & purification*
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques* / economics
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Female
  • Female Urogenital Diseases / diagnosis
  • Female Urogenital Diseases / microbiology
  • Gonorrhea / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Male
  • Male Urogenital Diseases
  • Mass Screening / economics
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / isolation & purification*
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Pharyngeal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Pharyngeal Diseases / microbiology
  • Point-of-Care Systems / economics
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Rectal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Rectal Diseases / microbiology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sex Offenses
  • Specimen Handling
  • Treatment Failure
  • United States
  • Urethra / microbiology
  • Urethral Diseases / diagnosis
  • Urethral Diseases / microbiology
  • Urine / microbiology


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • DNA, Bacterial