Is polymerase chain reaction (PCR) useful in the diagnosis of herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection?

Updated: Mar 01, 2018
  • Author: Folusakin O Ayoade, MD; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

Detection of HSV DNA in clinical specimens is possible with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques. PCR is more sensitive than culture and is the preferred test for CNS and ocular infections.

In HSV encephalitis, PCR using CSF provides a rapid, noninvasive diagnostic technique that is as sensitive as brain biopsy. [18]

PCR has been used to detect HSV-2 as the cause of recurrent meningitis (Mollaret) and has shown a strong association between HSV-1 and Bell's palsy.

PCR can be used to detect asymptomatic viral shedding.


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