A team led by Dr. Jingcai Wang of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, has shown that a faster method for diagnosing urinary tract infections (UTIs) in adults could also work in children.
The method uses urinalysis results and other variables to predict UTIs and delivers answers before the two to three days needed for culture results.
The developers will describe the test in a scientific poster session at AACC 2022 on Wednesday.
UTIs are common in children and when left untreated can cause acute distress, septic shock, and even kidney damage. The gold standard for diagnosing the condition, urine culture, is slow and labor-intensive for laboratory staff, leading doctors to sometimes prescribe antibiotics inappropriately before getting results, thus contributing to the rise of antibiotic resistance.
To evaluate their method's performance in children, the researchers used it to analyze data from the medical records of 5,353 children who previously underwent both urinalysis and urine culture for UTI. For each of these patients, the researchers entered their age, sex, risk for UTI, and urinalysis results into their test's algorithm to see how accurately it predicted their urine culture results.
Based on receiver operating curve (ROC) value, the test predicted positive urine culture results more accurately than any individual variable did on its own. The algorithm's ROC value was 0.825, versus values for individual variables which ranged from 0.546 to 0.776. The closer the ROC value is to 1, the more accurate the testing strategy, Wang explained.
The test represents "a simple way to predict urine culture results," Wang said in a statement, adding that it leads to quicker diagnosis of UTI and prevents potential kidney damage.
"It can potentially reduce unnecessary urine cultures, save money, and reduce use of unnecessary antibiotics in children," Wang added.