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C-Reactive Protein Testing for Active Tuberculosis among Inpatients without HIV in Uganda: a Diagnostic Accuracy Study.


The objective of this prospective cross-sectional study, conducted at a national referral hospital in Kampala, Uganda, was to determine diagnostic performance of serum C-reactive protein (CRP) as a triage test for tuberculosis (TB) among HIV-seronegative inpatients. We calculated the sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative likelihood ratios, and positive and negative predictive values to determine the diagnostic performance of a CRP enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) (Eurolyser) in comparison to that of a reference standard of Mycobacterium tuberculosis culture on two sputum samples. We constructed receiver operating curves and reported performance in reference to the manufacturer's cutoff and also to a threshold chosen to achieve sensitivity of >90%, in accordance with the WHO's target-product profile for a triage test. Among 119 HIV-seronegative inpatients, 46 (39%) had culture-positive pulmonary TB. In reference to M. tuberculosis culture, CRP had a sensitivity of 78% (95% confidence interval [CI], 64 to 89%) and a specificity of 52% (95% CI, 40 to 64%) at the manufacturer's threshold of 10 mg/liter. At a threshold of 1.5 mg/liter, the sensitivity was 91% (95% CI, 79 to 98%) but the specificity was only 21% (95% CI, 12 to 32%). Performance did not differ when stratified by illness severity at either threshold. In conclusion, among HIV-seronegative inpatients, CRP testing performed substantially below targets for a TB triage test. Additional studies among HIV-seronegative individuals in clinics and community settings are needed to assess the utility of CRP for TB screening.

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