Commercial products to preserve specimens for tuberculosis diagnosis: a systematic review.
Reeve BWP., McFall SM., Song R., Warren R., Steingart KR., Theron G.
SETTING: Eliminating tuberculosis in high-burden settings requires improved diagnostic capacity. Important tests such as Xpert® MTB/RIF and culture are often performed at centralised laboratories that are geographically distant from the point of specimen collection. Preserving specimen integrity during transportation, which could affect test performance, is challenging. OBJECTIVE: To conduct a systematic review of commercial products for specimen preservation for a World Health Organization technical consultation. DESIGN: Databases were searched up to January 2018. Methodological quality was assessed using Quality Assessment of Technical Studies, a new technical study quality-appraisal tool, and Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies-2. Studies were analysed descriptively in terms of the different products, study designs and diagnostic strategies used. RESULTS: Four products were identified from 16 studies: PrimeStore-Molecular-Transport-Medium (PS-MTM), FTA card, GENO•CARD (all for nucleic acid amplification tests [NAATs]) and OMNIgene•SPUTUM (OMS; culture, NAATs). PS-MTM, but not FTA card or GENO•CARD, rendered Mycobacterium tuberculosis non-culturable. OMS reduced Löwenstein-Jensen but not MGIT™ 960™ contamination, led to delayed MGIT time-to-positivity, resulted in Xpert performance similar to cold chain-transported untreated specimens, and obviated the need for N-acetyl-L-cysteine-sodium hydroxide decontamination. Data from paucibacillary specimens were limited. Evidence that a cold chain improves culture was mixed and absent for Xpert. The effect of the product alone could be discerned in only four studies. CONCLUSION: Limited evidence suggests that transport products result in test performance comparable to that seen in cold chain-transported specimens.