Objective: We investigated the hypothesis that a lymphocyte/white cell count ratio should be used as a diagnostic indicator of infectious mononucleosis.
Design: Retrospective study to compare lymphocyte counts and white blood cell counts, against the criterion standard, the mononucleosis spot test.
Setting: Department of Otolaryngology, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.
Participants: We reviewed 1000 patients who had Monospot assays, 500 positive and 500 negative.
Main outcome measures: The lymphocyte counts and white blood cell ratio was calculated and compared with the monospot result to calculate the sensitivity and specificity at various ratios.
Results: The lymphocyte counts and white blood cell ratio was significantly different in the positive and negative monospot groups (P < 0.05). The mean lymphocyte counts and white blood cell ratio in the positive group was 0.49 and the mean lymphocyte to white cell count ratio in the monospot negative group was 0.29.A ratio of 0.35 had a specificity of 72% and a sensitivity of 84% for the detection of glandular fever. A higher ratio will give a greater specificity, but a lower sensitivity, and vice versa.
Conclusions: The mean lymphocyte to white cell count ratio is not sufficient to diagnose or exclude infectious mononucleosis. Thus, this study does not confirm the conclusions of earlier studies.
© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.