Diagnosis of Chlamydia trachomatis urethritis in men by polymerase chain reaction assay of first-catch urine

J. E. Bauwens, A. M. Clark, M. J. Loeffelholz, S. A. Herman, W. E. Stamm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


To determine the accuracy of a recently developed polymerase chain reaction (PCR) urine assay to detect Chlamydia trachomatis urethral infection in men, we obtained urethral swabs and first-catch urine from 365 men attending a sexually transmitted diseases clinic. Thirty-three (9%) of the 365 men were infected with C. trachomatis as defined by urethral culture. Thirty-two of the 33 men with culture-positive urethral swabs also had PCR- positive urine assays. Of 332 patients with culture-negative urethral swabs, 325 had PCR-negative urine. Compared with chlamydia culture of urethral specimens, PCR assay of urine samples thus had a sensitivity of 97% and a specificity of 98%. The positive predictive value of the urine PCR assay was 82%, and the negative predictive value was 99%. Analysis of discrepant results indicated that six of seven PCR-positive, urethral culture-negative patients probably had chlamydial urethritis. All six patients had symptoms of urethritis and had either a positive urethral swab PCR or a positive urine PCR with a different amplification target. After resolution of discrepant results, (defining true positives as the 33 culture-positive patients and the 6 PCR-positive, culture-negative patients just described), the sensitivity and specificity of culture were 85% (33 of 39) and 100% (326 of 326), respectively. The revised sensitivity and specificity of PCR were 97% (38 of 39) and 99.7% (325 of 326), respectively. We conclude that this urine PCR assay provides a highly sensitive, noninvasive alternative method for the detection of C. trachomatis urethral infection in high-risk men attending a sexually transmitted diseases clinic. This assay could greatly facilitate the testing of larger numbers of male patients for chlamydial infection and should be studied in other settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3013-3016
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)


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