New diagnostic methods for tuberculosis

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Purpose of review

During the last decade, laboratory tests for the detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) have improved dramatically. Improvements in the ability to detect latent infection with Mtb, disease associated with Mtb, and strains resistant to commonly used antibiotics are reviewed.

Recent findings

Advances in the detection of Mtb include light-emitting diode fluorescence microscopy, nucleic acid amplification of Mtb and drug-resistant strains, and more rapid liquid culture with adjunct drug susceptibility testing. In the detection of latent tuberculosis infection, interferon γ release assays offer improved accuracy over the tuberculin skin test.


The past 10 years have seen the most rapid growth in new diagnostics for Mtb in over a century. Although these tests offer improvements in the ability to detect Mtb, drug-resistant isolates, and those with latent tuberculosis infection, these improvements are counter-balanced by the need to deploy these tests in areas where Mtb burden is highest.

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