Background: Diagnosing tuberculosis (TB) in children is challenging due to its paucibacillary nature. Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (TB-LAMP) is a simple, rapid, and specific point-of-care molecular diagnostic test. However, evaluation of its performance remains limited in children. This study aimed to evaluate the diagnostic performance of Eiken TB-LAMP among children with presumed tuberculosis disease.
Methods: Pulmonary and extrapulmonary specimens were collected from children under 18 years with presumed TB. Each specimen was tested by using TB-LAMP, acid-fast bacilli (AFB) smear microscopy, and one of the two molecular assays (polymerase chain reaction [PCR] or Xpert MTB/RIF). Sensitivity and specificity were estimated compared to mycobacterial culture as reference standard.
Results: From January 2020 to January 2021, 75 participants with presumed TB were enrolled with median age of 7 years (IQR 2-12). Seventeen specimens from 16 (21.3%) children had bacteriologically confirmed TB: 10 pulmonary and 7 extrapulmonary specimens. Overall sensitivity and specificity of TB-LAMP was 76.5% (95% CI 50.1%-93.2%) and 100% (95% CI 94.3%-100%), respectively. It had significantly higher sensitivity than AFB (52.9%, 95% CI 27.8%-77.0%) and similar to other molecular assays; PCR 82.4% (95% CI 56.6%-96.2%), Xpert MTB/RIF 70.0% (95% CI 34.8%-93.3%). Sensitivity of TB-LAMP for pulmonary, lymph node tissue, and extrapulmonary fluid was 80% (95% CI 44.4%-97.5%), 100% (95% CI 39.8-100), and 33.3% (95% CI 0.8-90.6), respectively. TB-LAMP detected all smear-positive (N = 9) and 50% of smear-negative (N = 8) specimens.
Conclusions: TB-LAMP had higher sensitivity than AFB microscopy and accuracy similar to other molecular assays in both pulmonary and extrapulmonary specimens. These findings support using TB-LAMP as a point-of-care test in children.
Keywords: TB culture; TB-LAMP; molecular diagnosis; pediatric tuberculosis; point-of-care.
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