Diagnostic accuracy of nucleic acid amplification tests for tuberculous meningitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Lancet Infect Dis. 2003 Oct;3(10):633-43. doi: 10.1016/s1473-3099(03)00772-2.


Conventional tests are not always helpful in making a diagnosis of tuberculous meningitis. We did a systematic review and meta-analysis to establish the summary accuracy of nucleic acid amplification (NAA) tests for tuberculous meningitis. We searched six electronic databases and contacted authors, experts, and manufacturers. Measures of diagnostic accuracy were pooled using a random effects model. 49 studies met our inclusion criteria. The summary estimates in 14 studies with commercial NAA tests were: sensitivity 0.56 (95% CI 0.46, 0.66), specificity 0.98 (0.97, 0.99), positive likelihood ratio 35.1 (19.0, 64.6), negative likelihood ratio 0.44 (0.33, 0.60), and diagnostic odds ratio 96.4 (42.8, 217.3). In the 35 studies with in-house ("home-brew") tests, the summary accuracy could not be established with confidence because of wide variability in test accuracy. On current evidence, commercial NAA tests show a potential role in confirming tuberculous meningitis diagnosis, although their overall low sensitivity precludes the use of these tests to rule out tuberculous meningitis with certainty.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics*
  • Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques / standards*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tuberculosis, Meningeal / diagnosis*