Clinical Impact of Plasma Metagenomic Next-generation Sequencing in a Large Pediatric Cohort

Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2022 Feb 1;41(2):166-171. doi: 10.1097/INF.0000000000003395.


Background: Plasma metagenomic next-generation sequencing (mNGS) has the potential to detect thousands of different organisms with a single test. There are limited data on the real-world impact of mNGS and even less guidance on the types of patients and clinical scenarios in which mNGS testing is beneficial.

Methods: A retrospective review of patients who had mNGS testing as part of routine clinical care at Texas Children's Hospital from June 2018-August 2019 was performed. Medical records were reviewed for pertinent data. An expert panel of infectious disease physicians adjudicated each unique organism identified by mNGS for clinical impact.

Results: There were 169 patients with at least one mNGS test. mNGS identified a definitive, probable or possible infection in 49.7% of patients. mNGS led to no clinical impact in 139 patients (82.2%), a positive impact in 21 patients (12.4%), and a negative impact in 9 patients (5.3%). mNGS identified a plausible cause for infection more often in immunocompromised patients than in immunocompetent patients (55.8% vs. 30.0%, P = 0.006). Positive clinical impact was highest in patients with multiple indications for testing (37.5%, P = 0.006) with deep-seated infections, overall, being most often associated with a positive impact.

Conclusion: mNGS testing has a limited real-world clinical impact when ordered indiscriminately. Immunocompromised patients with well-defined deep-seated infections are likely to benefit most from testing. Further studies are needed to evaluate the full spectrum of clinical scenarios for which mNGS testing is impactful.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Metagenomics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sepsis / blood
  • Sepsis / diagnosis
  • Sepsis / microbiology
  • Sepsis / virology


  • Anti-Infective Agents