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The laboratory diagnosis of gonorrhoea has historically been achieved by the isolation and identification of the causative agent, Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Currently it remains the gold standard because it demonstrates a high sensitivity and specificity and provides an organism for susceptibility testing to inform therapy. The obvious disadvantages of culture are that it requires good transport and isolation procedures and an invasive sample.
The increasing interest in the use of nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) for the detection of N gonorrhoeae has, in part, resulted from the widespread use of NAATs for the detection of Chlamydia trachomatis, both for testing genitourinary medicine patients and for screening as part of the National Chlamydia Screening Programme (NCSP). Non-invasive specimens are tested by the NCSP, and are also attractive for genitourinary medicine clinics, with the continued pressure on clinic time and resources. All of the NAATs for C trachomatis can detect N gonorrhoeae either simultaneously or using the same sample for little or no extra cost, which has …