Sci Rep. 2021 Jan 18;11(1):1694. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-79639-7.
In South Korea where the tuberculosis (TB) burden is intermediate, the risk of in-hospital transmission of TB remains high. We conducted a retrospective cohort study of 244 inpatients diagnosed with pulmonary TB (2015-2018) to evaluate the impact of the Xpert MTB/RIF assay (Xpert) screening on timely isolation. TB screening was performed with smear microscopy and a polymerase chain reaction test, and the Xpert was additionally used from November 2016. Among all patients with pulmonary TB, the median time-to-isolation was significantly reduced (22.6 vs. 69.7 h; p < 0.001) and segmented regression analysis adjusting for the time trend showed a reduction in time-to-isolation with the introduction of the Xpert (- 39.3 h; 95% CI - 85.6, 7.0; p = 0.096). Among 213 patients who were timely screened (≤ 72 h after admission), time-to-isolation decreased significantly (- 38.2 h; 95% CI - 70.6, - 5.8; p = 0.021) with the introduction of the Xpert, and its decreasing trend continued. The Xpert provided a shorter turnaround time (4.8 vs. 49.1 h; p < 0.001) and higher sensitivity (76.6% vs. 47.8%; p < 0.001) than smear microscopy. Thus, the Xpert can be a useful screening test for pulmonary TB in real-life hospital settings with an intermediate TB burden.