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Test ID: MTBRP Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex, Molecular Detection, PCR, Varies

Reporting Name

M tuberculosis Complex PCR

Useful For

Rapid detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex DNA (preferred method)


Detection of M tuberculosis, when used in conjunction with mycobacterial culture


This test should not be used to determine bacteriologic cure or to monitor response to therapy.


This test is not intended for the detection of latent tuberculosis and must not be used as a substitute for tests intended for detection of latent tuberculosis such as the tuberculin skin test or an interferon gamma release assay.

Clinical Information

Each year, Mycobacterium tuberculosis accounts for approximately 1.4 million deaths and is responsible for 9 million newly diagnosed cases of tuberculosis worldwide. M tuberculosis is spread from person-to-person via respiratory transmission and has the potential to become resistant to many or all of the antibiotics currently used if antimycobacterial treatment is not promptly initiated. Therefore, rapid and accurate detection of M tuberculosis in patient specimens is of clinical and public health importance.


Conventional culture methods can generally detect M tuberculosis in 2 to 3 weeks, although up to 8 weeks of incubation may be required in some instances. Developed at Mayo Clinic, this rapid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay detects M tuberculosis complex DNA directly from respiratory specimens and other specimens without waiting for growth in culture and, therefore, the results are available the same day the specimen is received in the laboratory. A mycobacterial culture should always be performed in addition to the PCR assay. The PCR assay is rapid, but the culture has increased sensitivity over the PCR assay. The PCR assay targets a unique sequence within the katG gene, which is present in members of the M tuberculosis complex. In addition, the assay can detect genotypic resistance to isoniazid mediated by mutations in the katG target, when present.


A positive result indicates the presence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex DNA. Members of the M tuberculosis complex detected by this assay include M tuberculosis, Mycobacterium bovis, Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guerin, Mycobacterium africanum, Mycobacterium canettii, and Mycobacterium microti. Other species within the M tuberculosis complex (eg, Mycobacterium caprae, Mycobacterium pinnipedii, and Mycobacterium mungi) should, in theory, be detected using the primer and probe sequences in this assay, but they have not been tested. This assay method does not distinguish between the species of the M tuberculosis complex.


A negative result indicates the absence of detectable M tuberculosis complex DNA.


Isoniazid (INH) resistance mediated through a katG variant will be reported when observed but lack of a katG variant does not imply that the isolate is susceptible to INH. There are other genetic loci in addition to katG that can contribute to resistance for this drug.

Report Available

1 to 3 days

Day(s) Performed

Monday through Sunday

Clinical Reference

1. Lewinsohn DM, Leonard MK, LoBue PA, et al: Official American Thoracic Society/Infectious Diseases Society of America/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Clinical Practice Guidelines: Diagnosis of Tuberculosis in Adults and Children. Clin Infect Dis. 2017 Jan 15;64(2):e1-e33. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciw694

2. Nahid P, Dorman SE, Alipanah N, et al: Official American Thoracic Society/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Infectious Diseases Society of America Clinical Practice Guidelines: Treatment of Drug-Susceptible Tuberculosis. Clin Infect Dis. 2016 Oct 1;63(7):e147-e195. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciw376

Method Name

Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)

Specimen Type


Additional Testing Requirements

This test must always be performed in conjunction with mycobacterial culture. If your facility is unable to perform mycobacterial culture, order CTB / Mycobacteria and Nocardia Culture, Varies concurrently with this test.

Shipping Instructions

Specimen must arrive within 7 days of collection; if greater than 7 days of collection, the specimen will be rejected.

Necessary Information

Specimen source is required.

Specimen Required

The high sensitivity of amplification by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) requires the specimen to be processed in an environment in which contamination of the specimen by Mycobacterium tuberculosis DNA is unlikely.


If a single specimen is being shared between mycobacteria culture, acid-fast smear, and/or M tuberculosis PCR, a minimum volume of 2 mL for body fluid, 3 mL for respiratory specimen, or a pea-sized piece of tissue should be obtained. Specimen volumes less than indicated may decrease sensitivity of testing. If insufficient volume is submitted, test or tests will be canceled.


Preferred Specimens: Body fluid, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), ocular fluid, respiratory (eg, bronchoalveolar lavage [BAL], bronchial washing, sputum), feces, fresh tissue, bone, bone marrow, or urine


Acceptable Specimens: If no fresh specimen is available, digested respiratory specimens treated with N-acetyl-L-cysteine/sodium hydroxide (NALC/NaOH) are acceptable (eg, BAL, bronchial washing, respiratory fluid, sputum, or tracheal secretion), as are NALC/NaOH-treated gastric washings.


Submit only 1 of the following specimens:


Specimen Type: Body fluid

Sources: Body, bone marrow aspirate, ocular, or CSF

Container/Tube: Sterile container

Specimen Volume: 1 mL

Additional Information: Only fresh, non-NALC/NaOH-digested body fluid is acceptable.


Specimen Type: Gastric washing

Container/Tube: Sterile container

Specimen Volume: 2 mL

Collection Instructions: Neutralize specimen within 4 hours of collection with 20 mg of sodium carbonate per 2 mL of gastric washing.


Specimen Type: Respiratory

Sources: BAL, bronchial washing, or sputum

Container/Tube: Sterile container

Specimen Volume: 1 mL if only PCR ordered or 3 mL if PCR ordered with smear and culture


Specimen Type: Feces

Container/Tube: Sterile container

Specimen Volume: 5-10 g

Additional Information: Only fresh, non-NALC/NaOH-digested fecal specimens are acceptable.


Specimen Type: Tissue

Sources: Fresh tissue, bone, or bone marrow biopsy

Container/Tube: Sterile container

Specimen Volume: 5-10 mm

Collection Instructions: Keep moist with sterile water or sterile saline

Additional Information: Only fresh, non-NALC/NaOH-digested tissue is acceptable.


Specimen Type: Urine

Container/Tube: Sterile container

Specimen Volume: 1 mL

Collection Instructions: Collect a random urine specimen.



Specimen Type: NALC/NaOH-digested respiratory specimens

Sources: Lavage fluid, bronchial washing, gastric washing, respiratory fluid, sputum, or tracheal secretion

Container/Tube: Sterile container

Specimen Volume: 2 mL

Collection Instructions:

1. Submit digested specimen treated with NALC/NaOH.

2. Clearly indicate on container and order form that specimen is a digested specimen.

Specimen Minimum Volume

Body fluid: 0.5 mL
Respiratory specimen-nondigested: 0.5 mL
Fresh tissue or bone: 5 mm
NALC-NaOH-digested specimen: 1 mL
Gastric washing: 1 mL
Stool: 5 g
Urine: 0.5 mL

Specimen Stability Information

Specimen Type Temperature Time Special Container
Varies Refrigerated (preferred) 7 days
  Frozen  7 days

Reference Values

Not applicable

Test Classification

This test was developed, and its performance characteristics determined by Mayo Clinic in a manner consistent with CLIA requirements. This test has not been cleared or approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

CPT Code Information

87556-Mycobacterium tuberculosis, complex, molecular detection, PCR

87015-Mycobacteria culture, concentration (if appropriate)

LOINC Code Information

Test ID Test Order Name Order LOINC Value
MTBRP M tuberculosis Complex PCR 38379-4


Result ID Test Result Name Result LOINC Value
SRC62 MTB Complex PCR, Specimen Source 31208-2
56044 MTB Complex PCR, Result 38379-4

Testing Algorithm

When this test is ordered, the reflex test may be performed and charged.


For more information see Meningitis/Encephalitis Panel Algorithm.

Reflex Tests

Test ID Reporting Name Available Separately Always Performed
TBT Concentration, Mycobacteria No, ( Bill Only) No


If not ordering electronically, complete, print, and send a Microbiology Test Request (T244) with the specimen.

Mayo Clinic Laboratories | Microbiology and Infectious Disease Catalog Additional Information:

mml-immunocompromised, mml-mbid-cnsinfections, mml-respiratoryinfections, mml-mycobacteria