Background: Accurate, rapid detection of tuberculosis (TB) and TB drug resistance is critical for improving patient care and decreasing TB transmission. Xpert® MTB/RIF assay is an automated test that can detect both TB and rifampicin resistance, generally within two hours after starting the test, with minimal hands-on technical time. The World Health Organization (WHO) issued initial recommendations on Xpert® MTB/RIF in early 2011. A Cochrane Review on the diagnostic accuracy of Xpert® MTB/RIF for pulmonary TB and rifampicin resistance was published January 2013. We performed this updated Cochrane Review as part of a WHO process to develop updated guidelines on the use of the test.
Objectives: To assess the diagnostic accuracy of Xpert® MTB/RIF for pulmonary TB (TB detection), where Xpert® MTB/RIF was used as both an initial test replacing microscopy and an add-on test following a negative smear microscopy result.To assess the diagnostic accuracy of Xpert® MTB/RIF for rifampicin resistance detection, where Xpert® MTB/RIF was used as the initial test replacing culture-based drug susceptibility testing (DST).The populations of interest were adults presumed to have pulmonary, rifampicin-resistant or multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), with or without HIV infection. The settings of interest were intermediate- and peripheral-level laboratories. The latter may be associated with primary health care facilities.
Search methods: We searched for publications in any language up to 7 February 2013 in the following databases: Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group Specialized Register; MEDLINE; EMBASE; ISI Web of Knowledge; MEDION; LILACS; BIOSIS; and SCOPUS. We also searched the metaRegister of Controlled Trials (mRCT) and the search portal of the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform to identify ongoing trials.
Selection criteria: We included randomized controlled trials, cross-sectional studies, and cohort studies using respiratory specimens that allowed for extraction of data evaluating Xpert® MTB/RIF against the reference standard. We excluded gastric fluid specimens. The reference standard for TB was culture and for rifampicin resistance was phenotypic culture-based DST.
Data collection and analysis: For each study, two review authors independently extracted data using a standardized form. When possible, we extracted data for subgroups by smear and HIV status. We assessed the quality of studies using QUADAS-2 and carried out meta-analyses to estimate pooled sensitivity and specificity of Xpert® MTB/RIF separately for TB detection and rifampicin resistance detection. For TB detection, we performed the majority of analyses using a bivariate random-effects model and compared the sensitivity of Xpert® MTB/RIF and smear microscopy against culture as reference standard. For rifampicin resistance detection, we undertook univariate meta-analyses for sensitivity and specificity separately to include studies in which no rifampicin resistance was detected.
Main results: We included 27 unique studies (integrating nine new studies) involving 9557 participants. Sixteen studies (59%) were performed in low- or middle-income countries. For all QUADAS-2 domains, most studies were at low risk of bias and low concern regarding applicability.As an initial test replacing smear microscopy, Xpert® MTB/RIF pooled sensitivity was 89% [95% Credible Interval (CrI) 85% to 92%] and pooled specificity 99% (95% CrI 98% to 99%), (22 studies, 8998 participants: 2953 confirmed TB, 6045 non-TB).As an add-on test following a negative smear microscopy result, Xpert®MTB/RIF pooled sensitivity was 67% (95% CrI 60% to 74%) and pooled specificity 99% (95% CrI 98% to 99%; 21 studies, 6950 participants).For smear-positive, culture-positive TB, Xpert® MTB/RIF pooled sensitivity was 98% (95% CrI 97% to 99%; 21 studies, 1936 participants).For people with HIV infection, Xpert® MTB/RIF pooled sensitivity was 79% (95% CrI 70% to 86%; 7 studies, 1789 participants), and for people without HIV infection, it was 86% (95% CrI 76% to 92%; 7 studies, 1470 participants). Comparison with smear microscopy In comparison with smear microscopy, Xpert® MTB/RIF increased TB detection among culture-confirmed cases by 23% (95% CrI 15% to 32%; 21 studies, 8880 participants).For TB detection, if pooled sensitivity estimates for Xpert® MTB/RIF and smear microscopy are applied to a hypothetical cohort of 1000 patients where 10% of those with symptoms have TB, Xpert® MTB/RIF will diagnose 88 cases and miss 12 cases, whereas sputum microscopy will diagnose 65 cases and miss 35 cases. Rifampicin resistance For rifampicin resistance detection, Xpert® MTB/RIF pooled sensitivity was 95% (95% CrI 90% to 97%; 17 studies, 555 rifampicin resistance positives) and pooled specificity was 98% (95% CrI 97% to 99%; 24 studies, 2411 rifampicin resistance negatives). Among 180 specimens with nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM), Xpert® MTB/RIF was positive in only one specimen that grew NTM (14 studies, 2626 participants).For rifampicin resistance detection, if the pooled accuracy estimates for Xpert® MTB/RIF are applied to a hypothetical cohort of 1000 individuals where 15% of those with symptoms are rifampicin resistant, Xpert® MTB/RIF would correctly identify 143 individuals as rifampicin resistant and miss eight cases, and correctly identify 833 individuals as rifampicin susceptible and misclassify 17 individuals as resistant. Where 5% of those with symptoms are rifampicin resistant, Xpert® MTB/RIF would correctly identify 48 individuals as rifampicin resistant and miss three cases and correctly identify 931 individuals as rifampicin susceptible and misclassify 19 individuals as resistant.
Authors' conclusions: In adults thought to have TB, with or without HIV infection, Xpert® MTB/RIF is sensitive and specific. Compared with smear microscopy, Xpert® MTB/RIF substantially increases TB detection among culture-confirmed cases. Xpert® MTB/RIF has higher sensitivity for TB detection in smear-positive than smear-negative patients. Nonetheless, this test may be valuable as an add-on test following smear microscopy in patients previously found to be smear-negative. For rifampicin resistance detection, Xpert® MTB/RIF provides accurate results and can allow rapid initiation of MDR-TB treatment, pending results from conventional culture and DST. The tests are expensive, so current research evaluating the use of Xpert® MTB/RIF in TB programmes in high TB burden settings will help evaluate how this investment may help start treatment promptly and improve outcomes.