Culture and Susceptibility Testing

Susceptibility testing is essential for directing proper treatment. The most common agar method, known as the proportion method, takes many weeks to produce results. The Bactec and newer mycobacterial growth indicator tube (MGIT) systems use liquid media and detect live mycobacteria in about 2 weeks.1,10,11 Rapid-identification tests include nucleic acid probes and DNA fingerprinting using restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR).1,6,10,12-14 These tests differentiate among mycobacterial species but currently cannot provide susceptibility data. New tests looking for specific mutations associated with drug resistance may facilitate rapid drug therapy decisions in the future. Nitrate reductase assays and porous ceramic support systems are among other rapid drug susceptibility testing techniques currently being investigated.15,16

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