Evaluating the use of a 22-pathogen TaqMan array card for rapid diagnosis of respiratory pathogens in intensive care

Nick K. Jones*, Andrew Conway Morris, Martin Curran, Surendra Parmar, Olajumoke Sule, David A. Enoch, Sani H. Aliyu, Hongyi Zhang, Hamid Jalal, Vilas Navapurkar, Michael E. Murphy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction. Pneumonia is highly prevalent in intensive care units (ICUs), with high associated mortality. Empirical treatment prioritizes breadth of coverage while awaiting laboratory diagnosis, often at the expense of antimicrobial stewardship. Microarrays use multiple parallel polymerase chain reactions to enable a rapid syndromic approach to laboratory diagnosis.

Aim. To evaluate the clinical and laboratory implications of introducing a bespoke 22-pathogen TaqMan Array Card (TAC) for rapid pathogen detection in deep respiratory samples from adult ICUs.

Methodology. TAC results from all ICU patients prospectively tested over a 9-month period at Cambridge’s Clinical Microbiology and Public Health Laboratory were compared to those of corresponding conventional microbiological assays (culture-, PCR- or serology-based) in terms of result agreement and time-to-result availability. Clinical impact was assessed by retrospective review of medical records.

Results. Seventy-one patients were included [45 (63%) male, median age 59). Overall result agreement was 94%, with TAC detecting more pathogens than conventional methods. TAC detected Streptococcus pneumoniae more readily than culture (7 vs 0 cases; P=0.02). TAC did not detect Aspergillus spp. in eight culture- or galactomannan-positive cases. The median turnaround time (1 day) was significantly shorter than that of bacterial/fungal culture, Pneumocystis jirovecii PCR and galactomannan testing (each 3 days; P<0.001), atypical bacteria serology (13 days; P<0.001) and Mycobacterium tuberculosis culture (46 days; P<0.001). Earlier result availability prompted discontinuation of unnecessary antimicrobials in 15/71 (21%) cases, but had no bearing on patient isolation/deisolation.

Conclusion. TAC provided greater overall yield of pathogen detection and faster turnaround times, permitting earlier discontinuation of unnecessary antimicrobials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)971-978
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Medical Microbiology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
A. C. M. is supported by a Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Career Development Fellowship (WT 2055214/Z/16/Z).

Open Access: Free to read but no Open Access licence

Publisher Copyright: © 2020 The Authors.

Citation: Jones, Nick K., et al. "Evaluating the use of a 22-pathogen TaqMan array card for rapid diagnosis of respiratory pathogens in intensive care." Journal of medical microbiology 69.7 (2020): 971-978.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1099/jmm.0.001218


  • Critical care
  • Intensive care units
  • Microarray
  • Molecular diagnostic techniques
  • Pneumonia


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