Diagnostic yield as an important metric for the evaluation of novel tuberculosis tests: rationale and guidance for future research.

Broger T Marx FM Theron G Marais BJ Nicol MP Kerkhoff AD et al.
The Lancet Global Health. Volume 12, Issue 7, July 2024, Pages e1184-e1191. doi:10.1016/S2214-109X(24)00148-7
Tuberculosis Diagnostic


Better access to tuberculosis testing is a key priority for fighting tuberculosis, the leading cause of infectious disease deaths in people. Despite the roll-out of molecular WHO-recommended rapid diagnostics to replace sputum smear microscopy over the past decade, a large diagnostic gap remains. Of the estimated 10·6 million people who developed tuberculosis globally in 2022, more than 3·1 million were not diagnosed. An exclusive focus on improving tuberculosis test accuracy alone will not be sufficient to close the diagnostic gap for tuberculosis. Diagnostic yield, which we define as the proportion of people in whom a diagnostic test identifies tuberculosis among all people we attempt to test for tuberculosis, is an important metric not adequately explored. Diagnostic yield is particularly relevant for subpopulations unable to produce sputum such as young children, people living with HIV, and people with subclinical tuberculosis. As more accessible non-sputum specimens (eg, urine, oral swabs, saliva, capillary blood, and breath) are being explored for point-of-care tuberculosis testing, the concept of yield will be of growing importance. Using the example of urine lipoarabinomannan testing, we illustrate how even tests with limited sensitivity can diagnose more people with tuberculosis if they enable increased diagnostic yield. Using tongue swab-based molecular tuberculosis testing as another example, we provide definitions and guidance for the design and conduct of pragmatic studies that assess diagnostic yield. Lastly, we show how diagnostic yield and other important test characteristics, such as cost and implementation feasibility, are essential for increased effective population coverage, which is required for optimal clinical care and transmission impact. We are calling for diagnostic yield to be incorporated into tuberculosis test evaluation processes, including the WHO Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluations process, providing a crucial real-life implementation metric that complements traditional accuracy measures.