Diagnostic accuracy of point-of-care tests in acute community-acquired lower respiratory tract infections. A systematic review and meta-analysis

Gentilotti E, De Nardo P, Cremonini E, Górska A, Mazzaferri F, Canziani LM, Hellou MM, Olchowski Y, Poran I, Leeflang M, Villacian J, Goossens H, Paul M, Tacconelli E.

Clinical Microbiology and Infection Vol 28

Background: Point-of-care tests could be essential in differentiating bacterial and viral acute community-acquired lower respiratory tract infections and driving antibiotic stewardship in the community.

Objectives: To assess diagnostic test accuracy of point-of-care tests in community settings for acute community-acquired lower respiratory tract infections.

Data sources: Multiple databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, Open Gray) from inception to 31 May 2021, without language restrictions.

Study eligibility criteria: Diagnostic test accuracy studies involving patients at primary care, outpatient clinic, emergency department and long-term care facilities with a clinical suspicion of acute community-acquired lower respiratory tract infections. The comparator was any test used as a comparison to the index test. In order not to limit the study inclusion, the comparator was not defined a priori.

Assessment of risk of bias: Four investigators independently extracted data, rated risk of bias, and assessed the quality using QUADAS-2.

Methods of data synthesis: The measures of diagnostic test accuracy were calculated with 95% CI.

Results: A total of 421 studies addressed at least one point-of-care test. The diagnostic performance of molecular tests was higher compared with that of rapid diagnostic tests for all the pathogens studied. The accuracy of stand-alone signs and symptoms or biomarkers was poor. Lung ultrasound showed high sensitivity and specificity (90% for both) for the diagnosis of bacterial pneumonia. Rapid antigen-based diagnostic tests for influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, human metapneumovirus, and Streptococcus pneumoniae had sub-optimal sensitivity (range 49%-84%) but high specificity (>80%).

Discussion: Physical examination and host biomarkers are not sufficiently reliable as stand-alone tests to differentiate between bacterial and viral pneumonia. Lung ultrasound shows higher accuracy than chest X-ray for bacterial pneumonia at emergency department. Rapid antigen-based diagnostic tests cannot be considered fully reliable because of high false-negative rates. Overall, molecular tests for all the pathogens considered were found to be the most accurate.

Keywords: Antibiotic stewardship; Community settings; Community-acquired lower respiratory tract infections; Point-of-care tests.