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Gonorrhea is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It is also a very common sexually transmitted infection (STI), with 301,174 cases of gonorrhea reported to CDC in 2009.(1,2) Many infections in women are asymptomatic and the true prevalence of gonorrhea is likely much higher than reported. The organism causes genitourinary infections in women and men and may be associated with dysuria and vaginal, urethral, or rectal discharge. Complications include pelvic inflammatory disease in women and gonococcal epididymitis and prostatitis in men. Gonococcal bacteremia, pharyngitis, and arthritis may also occur. Infection in men is typically associated with symptoms that would prompt clinical evaluation. Given the risk for asymptomatic infection in women, screening is recommended for women at increased risk of infection (eg, women with previous gonorrhea or other STI, inconsistent condom use, new or multiple sex partners, and women in certain demographic groups such as those in communities with high STI prevalence).(1,2) The CDC currently recommends dual antibiotic treatment due to emerging antimicrobial resistance.(2)
Culture was previously considered to be the gold standard test for diagnosis of Neisseria gonorrhoeae infection. However, organisms are labile in vitro, and precise specimen collection, transportation, and processing conditions are required to maintain organism viability, which is necessary for successful culturing. In comparison, nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT) provides superior sensitivity and specificity and is now the recommended method for diagnosis in most cases.(2-5) Immunoassays and nonamplification DNA tests are also available for Neisseria gonorrhoeae detection, but these methods are significantly less sensitive and less specific than NAATs.(2-5)
Improved screening rates and increased sensitivity of NAAT testing have resulted in an increased number of accurately diagnosed cases.(2-5) Improved detection rates result from both the increased performance of the assay and the patients' easy acceptance of urine testing. Early identification of infection enables sexual partners to seek testing and/or treatment as soon as possible and reduces the risk of disease spread. Prompt treatment reduces the risk of infertility in women.
Detection of Neisseria gonorrhoeae
A positive result indicates the presence of rRNA of Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
A negative result indicates that rRNA for Neisseria gonorrhoeae was not detected in the specimen.
The predictive value of an assay depends on the prevalence of the disease in any particular population. In settings with a high prevalence of sexually transmitted disease, positive assay results have a high likelihood of being true positives. In settings with a low prevalence of sexually transmitted disease, or in any settings in which a patient's clinical signs and symptoms or risk factors are inconsistent with gonococcal or chlamydial urogenital infection, positive results should be carefully assessed and the patient retested by other methods (eg, culture for Neisseria gonorrhoeae), if appropriate.
This report is intended for use in clinical monitoring or management of patients; it is not intended for use in medico-legal applications.
Appropriate specimen collection and handling is necessary for optimal assay performance.
Results should be interpreted in conjunction with other laboratory and clinical information.
A negative test result does not exclude the possibility of infection. Improper specimen collection, concurrent antibiotic therapy, presence of inhibitors, or low numbers of organisms in the specimen (ie, below the sensitivity of the test) may cause false-negative test results.
In low-prevalence populations, positive results must be interpreted carefully as false-positive results may occur more frequently than true-positive results in this setting.
In general, this assay should not be used to assess therapeutic success or failure, since nucleic acids from these organisms may persist for 3 weeks or more following antimicrobial therapy.
The presence of mucous does not interfere with this assay. However, this test requires endocervical cells, and if excess mucous is not removed prior to collection, adequate numbers of these cells may not be obtained.
No interference is expected with swab specimens due to:
-Lubricants and spermicides
The effects of use of tampons, douching, specimen types other than those listed in Specimen Required, and specimen collection variables have not been determined.
Testing of urine specimens with this method is not intended to replace cervical exam and endocervical sampling for diagnosis of urogenital infection; infections may result from other causes or concurrent infections may occur.
Testing urine specimens as the sole test for identifying female patients with gonococcal infections may miss some infected individuals.
Performance estimates for urine specimens are based on evaluation of urine obtained from the first part of the urine stream; performance on midstream collections has not been determined.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2002. Reporting of laboratory-confirmed chlamydial infection and gonorrhea by providers affiliated with three large Managed Care Organizations-United States, 1995-1999. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2002;51:256-259
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2010;59:RR12
3. Crotchfelt KA, Pare B, Gaydos C, Quinn TC: Detection of Chlamydia trachomatis by the GEN-PROBE AMPLIFIED Chlamydia trachomatis Assay (AMP CT) in urine specimens from men and women and endocervical specimens from women. J Clin Microbiol 1998 Feb;36(2):391-394
4. Gaydos CA, Quinn TC, Willis D, et al: Performance of the APTIMA Combo 2 assay for detection of Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae in female urine and endocervical swab specimens. J Clin Microbiol 2003 Jan;41(1):304-309
5. Chernesky MA, Jang DE: APTIMA transcription-mediated amplification assays for Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Expert Rev Mol Diagn 2006 Jul;6(4):519-525