Evaluation of Multiple Real-Time PCR Tests on Nasal Samples in a Large MRSA Surveillance Program

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We evaluated the LightCycler MRSA Advanced Test (Roche Molecular Diagnostics, Pleasanton, CA), the BD MAX MRSA assay (Becton Dickinson, Franklin Lakes, NJ), and the Xpert MRSA assay (Cepheid, Sunnyvale, CA) on nasal samples using the same population.


Admission and discharge nasal swabs were collected from inpatients using a double-headed swab. One swab was plated onto CHROMagar MRSA (CMA; Becton Dickinson, Sparks, MD) and then broken off into tryptic soy broth (TSB) for enrichment. TSB was incubated for 24 hours and then plated to CMA. The molecular tests were performed on the second swab. We analyzed the cost benefit of testing to evaluate what parameters affect hospital resources.


A total of 27,647 specimens were enrolled. The sensitivity/specificity was 98.3%/98.9% for the LightCycler MRSA Advanced Test and 95.7%/98.8% for the Xpert MRSA assay, but the difference was not significant. The positive predictive value was 86.7% for the LightCycler MRSA Advanced Test, 82.7% for the Xpert MRSA assay (P > .1), and 72.2% and for the BD MAX MRSA test (P < .001 compared with the LightCycler MRSA Advanced Test). All three assays were cost-effective, with the LightCycler MRSA Advanced Test having the highest economic return.


Our results suggest that the performance of the three commercial assays is similar. When assessing economic cost benefit of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus screening, the two measures with the most impact are the cost of the test and the specificity of the assay results.

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