DNA amplification by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a promising method for the detection of in immunosuppressed patients. The sensitivity and specificity of the PCR technique has been assessed in comparison with the immunofluoresence method (IF) on bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). Results correlated in 43 (78·8%) of 52 cases studied. PCR gave positive results with BALF from all 32 patients found to have pneumonia (PCP); IF gave positive results with 26 of them. PCR was more sensitive and as specific as IF. However, at the present time, we do not believe that it is clinically useful for detection of in BALF samples. DNA amplification by PCR should be reserved for testing IF-negative BALF samples from patients judged clinically to have PCP.


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