Document Type



Pathology (East Africa)


Background: Diagnosis of extrapulmonary tuberculosis continues to be a challenge due to the complexity of the causative organism and the wide array of pathologic features seen in this infection. Xpert MTB/RIF can be used on fresh or frozen tissue specimens for diagnosis of tuberculosis with good results. However, there is little data on its use with formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to demonstrate the potential utility of Xpert MTB/RIF and to compare its performance to Ziehl-Neelsen staining for the detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from FFPE tissues using histological features from haematoxylin and eosin staining as the gold standard.

Methods: Eighty randomly selected archival FFPE tissues exhibiting histological features of tuberculosis were included in the study. After deparaffinisation and lysis, all the tissue specimens were subjected to the Xpert® MTB/RIF assay. The outcome measures were proportions of positively identified cases by each test.

Results: Using histology as the gold standard, the sensitivity of Ziehl-Neelsen staining was 20.3% (95% confidence interval: 12% – 30.8%), and the sensitivity of the Xpert® MTB/RIF assay was 53.2% (95% confidence interval: 41.6% – 64.9%); the difference was statistically significant (p = 0.002). None of the cases tested positive for rifampicin resistance.

Conclusion: With prior deparaffinisation and lysis, FFPE tissues are amenable to testing by Xpert® MTB/RIF assay. A validation study to determine the clinical utility, analytical optimisation and cost implications of this assay for FFPE tissues is recommended.

Publication ( Name of Journal)

African Journal of Laboratory Medicine

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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