Multiplex PCR Based Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Analysis Compared to Traditional Urine Culture in Identifying Significant Pathogens in Symptomatic Patients

Urology. 2020 Feb;136:119-126. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2019.10.018. Epub 2019 Nov 9.


Objective: To evaluate whether multiplex PCR-based molecular testing is noninferior to urine culture for detection of bacterial infections in symptomatic patients.

Methods: Retrospective record review of 582 consecutive elderly patients presenting with symptoms of lower urinary tract infection (UTI) was conducted. All patients had traditional urine cultures and PCR molecular testing run in parallel.

Results: A total of 582 patients (mean age 77; range 60-95) with symptoms of lower UTI had both urine cultures and diagnostic PCR between March and July 2018. PCR detected uropathogens in 326 patients (56%, 326/582), while urine culture detected pathogens in 217 patients (37%, 217/582). PCR and culture agreed in 74% of cases (431/582): both were positive in 34% of cases (196/582) and both were negative in 40% of cases (235/582). However, PCR and culture disagreed in 26% of cases (151/582): PCR was positive while culture was negative in 22% of cases (130/582), and culture was positive while PCR was negative in 4% of cases (21/582). Polymicrobial infections were reported in 175 patients (30%, 175/582), with PCR reporting 166 and culture reporting 39. Further, polymicrobial infections were identified in 67 patients (12%, 67/582) in which culture results were negative. Agreement between PCR and urine culture for positive cultures was 90%, exceeding the noninferiority threshold of 85% (95% conflict of interest 85.7%-93.6%).

Conclusion: Multiplex PCR is noninferior to urine culture for detection and identification of bacteria. Further investigation may show that the accuracy and speed of PCR to diagnose UTI can significantly improve patient outcomes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bacterial Infections / diagnosis*
  • Bacterial Infections / urine*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Urinalysis / methods
  • Urinary Tract Infections / diagnosis*
  • Urinary Tract Infections / urine*
  • Urine / microbiology