Vol 51, No 5 (2017)

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Polymerase chain reaction based detection of bacterial 16S rRNA gene in the cerebrospinal fluid in the diagnosis of bacterial central nervous system infection in the course of external cerebrospinal fluid drainage. Comparison with standard diagnostics currently used in clinical practice

Piotr Dąbrowski1, Jerzy Jurkiewicz1, Zbigniew Czernicki1, Waldemar Koszewski1, Piotr Jasielski2
DOI: 10.1016/j.pjnns.2017.06.013
Neurol Neurochir Pol 2017;51(5):388-394.


Background and purpose

External drainage of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is a commonly used neurosurgical procedure. Complications of the procedure comprise central nervous system (CNS) bacterial infections, the frequency of which is estimated at around 6–10%. Detection of these infections is ineffective in many cases. The aim of the study was to evaluate the usefulness of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based detection of bacterial 16S rRNA gene (16S rDNA) in the CSF.

Material and methods

The study group consisted of 50 patients. Clinical signs of CNS infection were monitored and routine laboratory and microbiological tests were performed. The results of standard methods were compared with the bacterial 16S rDNA detection.


Using cultures, CNS infection was diagnosed in 8 patients, colonization of the drainage catheter in 6 patients, and sample contamination in 7 patients. In the group of the remaining 29 patients, no positive CSF culture was obtained and 13 of these patients also had all negative results for 16S rDNA detection. For the remaining 16 patients of this group, CNS infection, colonization of the catheter and sample contamination were diagnosed via PCR alone. Routine biochemical CSF tests and blood inflammatory parameters had a supporting value.


Routine hospital tests do not provide rapid and efficient detection of the external drainage related bacterial CNS infection. It is justified to use several diagnostic methods simultaneously. The16S rDNA determination in CSF can increase the probability of detection of possible pathogens.

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Neurologia i Neurochirurgia Polska