What is PCR Testing?
PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, is a technique that duplicates DNA, making small, specific DNA segments more discernible through repeated amplification. This proves invaluable in discerning infections. In contrast to conventional cultures, PCR remains unaffected by recent antibiotic administration, as it identifies the DNA of pathogens rather than attempting to cultivate them as in a culture. Consequently, PCR testing remains pertinent and effective regardless of ongoing antibiotic treatment.
What Can PCR Do?
- Identify the presence of pathogens responsible for the infection.
- Inform healthcare providers about medications to avoid due to resistance genes.
- Provide treatment recommendations, including preferred and alternative medications.
- Enhance the provider-patient relationship through exceptional service and care.
PCR Tests vs Culture Tests
- Accurate results, usually in 24 hours
- Supports antibiotic stewardship
- Detects many pathogens
CultureDeveloped in 1887
- Results normally between 3-5 days
- Medications may effect results
- Checks for a few pathogens
Why Choose PCR over Cultures
- Rapid Results: PCR tests deliver faster results, with rapid tests providing outcomes in just a few hours. Most PCR tests furnish results within 48 hours, and many offer a turnaround time of 24 hours.
- Accurate Results: Traditional cultures may yield results like “no growth”. This is particularly notable in UTIs, which research indicates can be unreliable.
- Early Detection Capability: While cultures might miss pathogens, PCR can identify even small numbers of pathogens.
- Preemptive Detection: PCR tests are so sensitive that they can identify viruses or bacteria in your system before your immune system mounts an antibody response.
- Championing Antibiotic Stewardship: Doctors sometimes prescribe antibiotics as a precaution while awaiting culture test results. The speed of PCR tests reduces unnecessary antibiotic use, lowering the risk of adverse reactions, and inhibiting the development of antibiotic-resistant genes.
- Unparalleled Accuracy: PCR technology pinpoints specific pathogens and antibiotic-resistant genes with remarkable precision.