NTRL equips lab staff with proficiency skills in Solid TB culture testing
Photo courtesy of NTRL. In photo: Participants practice solid TB culture processing at NTRL

The RITM National Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory (NTRL) Learning and Development Section trained two batches of laboratory personnel on Solid Tuberculosis (TB) Culture at NTRL on May 06-17 and May 20-31, 2019.

Participants from the various TB culture laboratories of the National TB Laboratory Network were equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively perform solid TB Culture in their respective facilities. Ospital ng Palawan, Dagupan Doctors Villaflor Memorial Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines, Batangas Medical Center, and Caraga TB Reference Laboratory were represented in the training.

According to NTRL Learning and Development Section Program Officer Arcdel Urcia, processing specimen for solid TB culture requires high proficiency skills as the test is likely to produce a significant amount of infectious aerosols that might lead to laboratory acquired infection. In addition, with the complexity of the TB culture test, contamination and non-recovery are possible errors that would hinder the diagnosis.

It is with paramount importance that TB culture processing of clinical specimens should be done correctly and safely at all times. It is necessary for them [laboratory staff] to receive adequate technical laboratory training to effectively and safely perform their work,” Urcia emphasized.

In comparison with the other TB diagnostic tools, TB culture is highly sensitive in identifying acid-fast bacilli (AFB) and recovering AFB from clinical specimens that failed to be revealed by sputum smear microscopy.

The solid TB culture test finds out if Mycobacterium tuberculosis is present by growing them in different solid substances on culture plates. The samples are usually from the sputum of a TB-suspected patient, or other clinical specimens such as urine when extra pulmonary TB (disease outside of the lungs) is suspected.

TB culture remains to be a valuable laboratory diagnostics used by the National TB Program (NTP) for the definitive diagnosis and treatment monitoring of patients with TB,” said Urcia.

The TB culture test remains to be the gold standard in confirming the disease.

by Allenor Enciso, Communication and Engagement Officer