Two commercially available nucleic acid-based tests, ligase chain reaction (LCR; Abbott Laboratories) and PCR (Roche Diagnostics), for the detection of Chlamydia trachomatis in male and female urine samples were compared with culture and enzyme immunoassay (EIA) (Microtrak; Syva) for C. trachomatis detection in genital samples. The samples were collected from 1,005 patients who attended a sexually transmitted disease clinic. In this study population, the prevalence of the infection was 4%. Specimens which were reactive in any of the tests were retested with a different PCR test using primers directed against the major outer membrane protein gene. With a "gold standard" of a positive culture, or any other positive test result if it was confirmed by an independent test, the Roche PCR (95% sensitive, 99.9% specific) was more sensitive than the LCR (75% sensitive, 100% specific) (chi2, P < 0.0001) while both tests were more sensitive than culture (58% sensitive, 100% specific) or EIA (45% sensitive, 100% specific) (chi2, P < 0.001). The Roche PCR and Abbott LCR tests of urine identified 65% and 30% more positive patients, respectively, than did testing by culture of urethral or cervical specimens. Nucleic acid testing of urine specimens for C. trachomatis is a more sensitive and convenient method for the detection of genital infection
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