What pathogen-specific tests are available for the workup of bacterial pneumonia?

Updated: Sep 30, 2020
  • Author: Justina Gamache, MD; Chief Editor: Guy W Soo Hoo, MD, MPH  more...
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Urine assays also available for the rapid detection of Legionella and pneumococcal antigens. These fast card-type assays have been developed in recent years and may be useful in unclear cases or when the choices for antimicrobial therapy are limited.

Sputum and/or urinary antigen tests are available for Legionella pneumophila.

Sputum, serum, and/or urinary antigen tests are available for Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Immune serologic tests have been developed for Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Chlamydophila pneumoniae, L pneumophila, and Coxiella burnetii. However, the results are usually not available until several weeks after the infection, which makes these tests less useful clinically.

Nucleic acid detection (eg, polymerase chain reaction [PCR]) is still in development. PCR is extremely sensitive. The potential for false-positive results renders it less useful than other tests.

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