The intracellular life style of chlamydia and the ability to cause persistent infections with low-grade replication requires tests with high analytical sensitivity to directly detect C. trachomatis
(CT) in medical samples. Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) are the most sensitive assays with a specificity similar to cell culture and are considered the method of choice for CT detection. In addition, NAATs can be performed on various clinical specimens that do not depend on specific transport and storage conditions, since NAATs do not require infectious bacteria. In the case of lower genital tract infections, first void urine and vaginal swabs are the recommended specimens for testing males and females, respectively. Infections of anorectal, oropharyngeal and ocular epithelia should also be tested by NAAT analysis of corresponding mucosal swabs. In particular, anorectal infections of men who have sex with men (MSM) should include evaluation of lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) by identification of genotypes L1, L2 or L3. Detection of CT antigens by enzyme immunoassay (EIAs) or rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are unsuitable due to insufficient sensitivity and specificity. Recent PCR-based RDTs, however, are non-inferior to standard NAATs, and might be used at the point-of-care. Serology finds application in the diagnostic work-up of suspected chronic CT infection but is inappropriate to diagnose acute infections.
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