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GeneXpert of stool versus gastric lavage fluid for the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis in severely ill adults

  • Rongmei Liu
  • Qian Liang
  • Yuanyuan Shang
  • Yifeng Ma
  • Fen Wang
  • Lingling Dong
  • Hairong HuangEmail author
  • Mengqiu GaoEmail author
  • Yu PangEmail author
Original Paper



Stool is an alternative specimen matrix for tuberculosis (TB) tests, because Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) can be swallowed and detected in the samples from digestive tract. We aimed to assess the performance of GeneXpert on stool and gastric lavage fluid (GALF) in diagnosing TB among patients with severe pulmonary TB.


We enrolled adults with suspected pulmonary TB who were unable to produce sputum at visit between January 2016 and June 2018. Bacteriological samples consisted of one transtracheal aspirate sputum specimen, one stool specimen and/or one gastric lavage fluid specimen. Bacterial culture of transtracheal aspirate sputum provided the gold standard.


Of 65 individuals recruited for analysis, MGIT culture identified the presence of MTB in 32 samples. Overall, 29 of 32 stool samples from culture-positive cases were detected by the GeneXpert test, demonstrating a sensitivity of 90.6%. For GALF, 13 patients were detected as infected with MTB by GeneXpert, yielding a sensitivity of 56.5%. The statistical analysis revealed that GeneXpert showed significantly better sensitivity in detecting MTB from stool samples than GALF samples (P = 0.003). Among individuals with GeneXpert-positive stool, the percentage of individuals with comorbid diabetes was significantly higher than among individuals with GeneXpert-negative stool (19.4% vs. 2.9%, P = 0.034).


In conclusion, our data reveal that GeneXpert provides a higher detection rate on stool compared to GALF, indicating stool should be considered as an alternative for adult TB patients unable to produce sputum. Individuals with diabetes are more likely to have positive GeneXpert stool than nondiabetic individuals.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis Severe tuberculosis Stool GeneXpert 



We would like to thank members of the National Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention for their technical assistance.


This work was supported by the Beijing Municipal Administration of Hospitals’ Youth Programme (QML20171601), and the Chinese Clinical Trial Cooperation Support Programme (2018KYJJ002).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical approval

This study was approved by the Ethic Committee of Beijing Chest Hospital affiliated to Capital Medical University. Written informed consent was obtained from the immediate relative on behalf of each patient.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tuberculosis Department, Beijing Tuberculosis and Thoracic Tumor Research Institute, Beijing Chest HospitalCapital Medical UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Beijing Tuberculosis and Thoracic Tumor Research Institute, Beijing Chest HospitalCapital Medical UniversityBeijingChina

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