Abstract

The increase in drug-resistant tuberculosis in China calls for scaling up rapid diagnosis. We evaluated introduction of rapid resistance testing by line-probe assay for all patients with a diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis in 2 prefectures in middle and eastern China. We analyzed sputum samples for smear-positive patients and cultures for smear-negative patients. We used a before–after comparison of baseline and intervention periods (12 months each) and analyzed data for 5,222 baseline period patients and 4,364 intervention period patients. The number of patients with rifampin resistance increased from 30 in the baseline period to 97 in the intervention period for smear-positive patients and from 0 to 13 for smear-negative patients, reflecting a low proportion of positive cultures (410/2,844, 14.4%). Expanding rapid testing for drug resistance for smear-positive patients resulted in a 3-fold increase in patients with diagnoses of rifampin-resistant tuberculosis. However, testing smear-negative patients had limited added value because of a low culture-positive rate.

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