The new diagnostic mycobacteriology laboratory

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Abstract

Recent surveys in the USA show that many mycobacteriology laboratories continue to use less-than-optimum culture and susceptibility testing methods. This seems to be true for European countries as well. The past few years have brought significant changes to the clinical tuberculosis laboratory. High-performance liquid chromatography and direct detection of acid-fast bacilli in clinical specimens aim at the same goal: increased sensitivity and specificity of the diagnostic approach and reduction of turnaround time. This review outlines a brief comparison between contemporary traditional methods and the latest developments in the direct detection of acid-fast bacilli. If patient care and public health are always considered paramount, regardless of admission time, hospital type, etc., the current concept of services has several shortcomings. One way to manage this situation is to sort and allocate specimens according to a system of priorities. There is a growing realization that no single method by itself is the best. To streamline the best choice for laboratory diagnosis, an additionaldynamic acid-fast network is presented: ‘Point-of-Care,’ ‘Fast Track,’ and ‘Specialty’ laboratories. The physician interacts with all three types of laboratories, so ongoing communication between the physician and the laboratory is essential. Laboratorians must work together in the formation of thisdynamic acid-fast network to improve service rendered for our patients.