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Archivos de Pediatría del Uruguay

versão impressa ISSN 0004-0584versão On-line ISSN 1688-1249


AMAYA, Gabriela et al. GeneXpert for the diagnosis of pulmonary and extrapulmonary tuberculosis in pediatric patients. Arch. Pediatr. Urug. [online]. 2020, vol.91, suppl.2, pp.12-23.  Epub 01-Dez-2020. ISSN 0004-0584.


the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends molecular biology techniques, such as Xpert MTB/RIF, for the diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) and for the detection of Rifampicin resistance. In Uruguay, the Xpert MTB/RIF has been used since 2014, and no research papers have yet assessed its performance. A Cochrane review recommends the assessment of the Xpert diagnostic accuracy in difficult to diagnose groups, such as, children, people living with HIV and with extrapulmonary tuberculosis.


describe cases of TB in children of under 15 years of age in Uruguay during 2018 and 2019 and describe the influence of the various diagnostic tests on the bacteriological confirmation of the disease. Evaluate the performance of the Xpert MTB/RIF for the diagnosis of TB in respiratory and non- respiratory samples using the culture as a reference standard. Compare the performance of GeneXpert with smear microscopy for TB diagnosis.

Material and methods:

analytical, retrospective study of children of under 15 years of age in Uruguay between January 2018 and June 2019, based on data obtained from the PNC-TB information system. Clinical-epidemiological characteristics of the TB cases were described. Definitions were taken from CHLA-EP, as per WHO recommendations. All respiratory and non-respiratory samples received by the National Reference Laboratory in Tuberculosis of the CHLA-EP from 1/1/2018 to 6/30/2019, entered in the IT system (“TB soft”) were analyzed; they belonged to patients with clinical suspicion of TB, studied as contacts, or to TB risk groups (patients with immunodeficiency or at risk of immunosuppression, mainly). All samples underwent smear microscopy and/or Xpert MTB/RIF (according to the CHLA-EP protocol) and culture. The detection of Rifampicin resistance in the Xpert was compared with first- line drug sensitivity tests using molecular methods made from the cultures. The sensitivity, specificity, PPV and NPV of GeneXpert and ZN microscopy were calculated using Mycobacterium tuberculosis culture as gold standard. We calculated the Xpert positive and negative likelihood ratio (LR).


67 patients under 15 years of age were diagnosed with TB, and 46% cases were bacteriologically confirmed. A total of 1670 samples were analyzed; 82% respiratory and 17% non-respiratory. A total of 32 samples showed a positive culture for M. tuberculosis (14 respiratory and 18 non- respiratory). One rifampicin resistance sample was detected in the Xpert that was not confirmed in the culture. The sensitivity of Xpert for all samples was 80%; the specificity 99,5%; PPV 80%; NPV 99,5%. In the case of smear microscopy for all samples: S 44,4%, specificity 99,4%, PPV 70,6%; NPV 98,2%. Respiratory samples: Xpert S 100%; E 99,4%; PPV 66,7%; NPV 100%. Bacilloscopy: S 72,7%; E 99,6%; PPV 72,7%; NPV 99,6%. Non-respiratory samples: Xpert S: 66,7%; E 100%; PPV 100%; NPV 97,9%. Bacilloscopy: S 25%; E 98,8%; PPV 66,7%; NPV 93,2%. The LR + of the Xpert for all samples was 160 and the LR - 0,2.


TB in children under 15 remains difficult to diagnose. Bacteriological confirmation was attempted in 88% of TB cases, and almost 50% showed positive results by some bacteriological technique. The Xpert showed a good sensitivity and specificity profile in both respiratory and non-respiratory samples, similar to those reported in international papers. The main contribution in relation to smear microscopy is the greater sensitivity for the diagnosis of TB in children under 15 years of age. The Xpert is very useful for TB diagnosis when it is positive, although it does not ensure we can rule out the disease in case of negative results.

Palavras-chave : Tuberculosis; Xpert MTB / RIF; Diagnostic; Child.

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