Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Confirming the Chlamydia trachomatis status of referred rectal specimens
  1. Sarah Alexander,
  2. Iona Martin,
  3. Catherine Ison
  1. Sexually Transmitted Bacteria Reference Laboratory, Health Protection Agency, Centre for Infections, Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5HT, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Sarah Alexander
 Sexually Transmitted Bacteria Reference Laboratory, Health Protection Agency, Centre For Infections, Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5HT, UK; Sarah.Alexander{at}


Objectives: To assess the reliability of different laboratory methods for the detection of Chlamydia trachomatis in rectal specimens

Methods: 1782 rectal specimens confirmed as C trachomatis positive using a standard laboratory method, were forwarded to the Sexually Transmitted Bacteria Reference Laboratory (STBRL). All specimens were retested using a C trachomatis specific independent in-house real time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). If this test was negative, a second test (Artus Real-Art PCR Kit) was employed as a confirmation. A correlation between real time PCR results obtained at the reference centre (STBRL), and the method of C trachomatis detection used in the primary laboratory was undertaken.

Results: The percentage of specimens that could be confirmed as positive, compared with primary method of detection was as follows: C trachomatis culture 87.5%, strand displacement assay (SDA: Becton Dickinson) 93.4%, Cobas Amplicor (Roche) 89.2%, Aptima Combo Two assay (Genprobe) 83.3%, and enzyme immunoassays (EIA) 35.4%.

Conclusions: High rates of confirmation can be achieved using an independent real time PCR assay to examine rectal specimens which had initially tested C trachomatis positive using nucleic acid amplification tests and chlamydia tissue culture. This is not possible for specimens that had been screened using EIA tests, which reflects the low specificity of this test when used for rectal specimens. Laboratories currently using EIA based assays to test rectal specimens should review this approach.

  • EIA, enzyme immunoassays
  • LGV, lymphogranuloma venereum
  • NAAT, nucleic acid amplification test
  • PCR, polymerase chain reaction
  • SDA, strand displacement assay
  • STBRL, Sexually Transmitted Bacteria Reference Laboratory
  • Chlamydia trachomatis
  • enzyme immunoassays
  • nucleic acid amplification test
  • rectal specimens

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Published Online First 2 May 2007

Linked Articles

  • Editorial
    Nicola Low Helen Ward