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Test ID: SAFB    
Acid-Fast Smear for Mycobacterium

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Detection of acid-fast bacilli in clinical specimens

Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a leading infectious disease cause of death worldwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported a rise in the incidence of tuberculosis associated with AIDS, foreign-born cases, and increased transmission in high-risk populations. There has also been a rise in the number of Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains that exhibit resistance to 1 or more antituberculosis drugs. The public health implications of these facts are considerable.

 

Because Mycobacterium tuberculosis is readily spread by airborne particles, rapid diagnosis and isolation of infected persons is important. Detection of acid-fast bacilli in sputum specimens allows rapid identification of individuals who are likely to be infected while definitive diagnosis and treatment are pursued.

Reference Values Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.

Negative (reported as positive or negative)

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

Patients whose sputum specimens are identified as acid-fast positive should be considered potentially infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, pending definitive diagnosis by molecular methods and/or mycobacterial culture.

Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

MTBRP / Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex, Molecular Detection, PCR is the preferred test for rapid, direct detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from clinical specimens.

 

Artifacts may exhibit nonspecific fluorescence and be confused with organisms.

Clinical Reference Provides recommendations for further in-depth reading of a clinical nature

Pfyffer GE, Brown-Elliot BA, Wallace RJ: General characteristics, isolation, and staining procedures. In Manual of Clinical Microbiology. Eighth edition. Washington, DC, ASM Press, 2003, pp 532-559