The impact of an enteroviral RT-PCR assay on the diagnosis of aseptic meningitis and patient management.J Clin Virol. 2002 Jul; 25 Suppl 1:S19-26.JC
Enterovirus (EV) is a major cause of aseptic meningitis and non-specific febrile illness in children. Since the majority of patients are hospitalized for possible bacterial infection, a rapid test for the diagnosis of enteroviral meningitis (EVM) may reduce hospitalizations and unnecessary treatments.
To review the impact of an EV reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay for the diagnosis of EVM on patient management.
CSF from 1056 patients admitted to the hospital between 1998 and 2001 was tested using EV RT-PCR. The results were correlated with CSF counts, diagnosis, test turnaround time (TAT) and length of hospital stay (LOS).
EV RT-PCR was positive for 113 patients (11%). Of these cases, 92% occurred during the summer months and 77% were in children <19 years of age. Children <3 years old with EVM frequently had non-specific clinical findings and lacked pleocytosis. There was a significant correlation between decreasing LOS and TAT (r(2)=0.97, P<0.001).
RT-PCR testing for EVM is an important tool to aid in the diagnosis of children with non-specific febrile illness. This test impacted patient management as measured by shortened patient stays, which should translate into significant health care savings.