Rapid detection of pneumococcal antigen in lung aspirates: comparison with culture and PCR technique

Respir Med. 1997 Apr;91(4):201-6. doi: 10.1016/s0954-6111(97)90039-1.


Detection of pneumococcal antigen has been used to increase the rate of diagnosis of pneumococcal pneumonia. The present study was designed to determine the value of rapid detection of pneumococcal antigen in samples obtained by transthoracic needle aspiration (TNA) from patients with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) in a comparative analysis with culture and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Pneumococcal antigen was detected by latex agglutination. One hundred and ten consecutive patients diagnosed with CAP underwent TNA. Patients were grouped, according to PCR, culture and serological results, into pneumococcal pneumonia (n = 18), other known aetiology (n = 67) and unknown aetiology (n = 25). In patients with pneumococcal pneumonia, antigen was detected in 17 (94.4%) cases. Antigen was detected in one and nine patients with pneumonia of other known or unknown aetiologies, respectively, yielding a specificity of 89.1%. In conclusion, detection of pneumococcal antigen on samples obtained by TNA from patients with CAP provides a sensitive and specific diagnosis of Streptococcus pneumoniae infection. Furthermore, its rapid results would reduce the dependence on empirical treatments.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antigens, Bacterial / analysis*
  • Bacteriological Techniques
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Community-Acquired Infections / diagnosis
  • Community-Acquired Infections / microbiology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / diagnosis
  • Pneumonia, Pneumococcal / diagnosis*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / immunology*
  • Time Factors


  • Antigens, Bacterial