BACKGROUND. There were 1.45 million deaths from tuberculosis in 2011. A substantial proportion of active pulmonary tuberculosis cases in countries where tuberculosis, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, and AIDS are highly endemic remain undiagnosed because of the reliance on sputum-smear microscopy. This study evaluated the performance of the Xpert MTB/RIF assay at a tertiary care referral center in Zambia, a country where the burden of tuberculosis and HIV infection is high. METHODS. A total of 881 adult inpatients admitted to University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka who were able to produce sputum were enrolled and analyzed in the study, irrespective of admission diagnosis. Sputum specimens were analyzed by fluorescence smear microscopy, the Xpert MTB/RIF assay, mycobacterial growth indicator tube (MGIT) culture,and MGIT drug-susceptibility testing. The sensitivity and specificity of the Xpert MTB/RIF assay were evaluated using culture as the gold standard. RESULTS. Culture-confirmed tuberculosis was found in 201 of 881 patients (22.8%). The specificity of the Xpert MTB/RIF assay was 95.0% (95% confidence interval [CI], 92.4%–96.8%),and the sensitivity was 86.1% (95% CI, 80.3%–90.4%). In sputum smear–negative, culture-positive cases, the assay was 74.7% sensitive (95% CI, 64.6%–82.8%), identifying 71 additional tuberculosis cases that were not detected by smear microscopy.A total of 18 of 111 patients with tuberculosis who were tested (16.2%) had multidrug-resistant (MDR) tuberculosis.The sensitivity and specificity of the Xpert MTB/RIF assay for detecting culture-confirmed, rifampicin-resistant tuberculosis was 81.3% (95% CI, 53.7%–95.0%) and 97.5% (95% CI,90.4%–99.6%), respectively. CONCLUSIONS. The Xpert MTB/RIF assay performs better than smear microscopy in an inpatient setting in a country where tuberculosis and HIV infection are highly endemic. Assessment of its usefulness and cost-effectiveness for increased detection of tuberculosis cases missed by sputum smear and for concomitant screening for MDR tuberculosis among adult inpatients attending tertiary care referral centers in other countries with a high burden of tuberculosis and HIV infection is warranted [corrected]

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