Volume 83, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Optimal tuberculosis testing usually involves sputum centrifugation followed by broth culture. However, centrifuges are biohazardous and scarce in the resource-limited settings where most tuberculosis occurs. To optimize tuberculosis testing for these settings, centrifugation of 111 decontaminated sputum samples was compared with syringe-aspiration through polycarbonate membrane-filters that were then cultured in broth. To reduce the workload of repeated microscopic screening of broth cultures for tuberculosis growth, the colorimetric redox indicator 2,3-diphenyl-5-(2-thienyl) tetrazolium chloride was added to the broth, which enabled naked-eye detection of culture positivity. This combination of filtration and colorimetric growth-detection gave similar results to sputum centrifugation followed by culture microscopy regarding mean colony counts (43 versus 48; = 0.6), contamination rates (0.9% versus 1.8%; = 0.3), and sensitivity (94% versus 95%; = 0.7), suggesting equivalency of the two methods. By obviating centrifugation and repeated microscopic screening of cultures, this approach may constitute a more appropriate technology for rapid and sensitive tuberculosis diagnosis in basic laboratories.


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  • Received : 18 Sep 2009
  • Accepted : 09 Feb 2010

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