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Tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis in children is a major challenge with up to 94% of children with TB treated empirically in TB high-burden countries. Paediatric tuberculosis (PTB) remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality globally, particularly in developing countries. Most deaths/morbidity from TB in paediatrics could be prevented with early diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
The main objective of this systematic review is to examine the evidence whether real-time polymerase chain reaction assay could be the most accurate clinical laboratory diagnostic methodology for the Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) detection in paediatrics.
We will search MEDLINE/PubMed, EMBASE, BIOSIS, LILACS, Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group Specialised Register (CIDG SR), Global Health, and CINAHL for published studies that recruited children less than 16 years of age being investigated for Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) infection using real-time polymerase chain reaction assay accompanied by mycobacteriological culture investigation as the reference standard. There will be no restriction regarding the language, date of publication, and publication status. We will include randomised controlled trials and observational studies (cohort, cross-sectional) in the review.
Selection of studies, data extraction and management, assessment of risk of bias, and quality of evidence will be performed by two independent reviewers (EB and BC). A third researcher will be consulted in case of discrepancies. Depending on the availability and quality of the data, a meta-analysis will be performed. Otherwise, findings will be qualitatively reported.
To our knowledge, this is the first systematic review and meta-analysis assessing the detection of MTB from all clinical sample types using real-time polymerase chain reaction assay in paediatric population. This review will make available evidence on the accuracy, approach, and interpretation of results of this assay in the context of MTB diagnosis which will meet an urgent need, considering the challenges of MTB diagnosis in paediatrics.
Systematic review registration