This cartridge-based nucleic acid amplification testing (CBNAAT) equipment will benefit patients from several western districts who can now get the results in just a couple of hours.

A hi-tech equipment to detect cases of Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR TB) has begun to function at the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital (CMCH) from last week.

CMCH Dean R. Vimala said that this cartridge-based nucleic acid amplification testing (CBNAAT) equipment will benefit patients from several Western districts who can now get the results in just a couple of hours.

Officials of the Health Departments’ Tuberculosis Wing told The Hindu on Thursday that the CBNAAT would help curtail the transmission of MDR TB, a communicable disease.

Diagnosis

Earlier, the diagnosis for MDR TB was done by tissue culture from the sample of the patient, which process alone took a month.

The drug sensitivity test was done at Intermediate Reference Laboratories (IRL) at Chetpet, Chennai, the only one of its kind in the State. This entire process took nearly six months, which put many people at risk of acquiring MDR TB from the patient.

This system was replaced by Line Probe Assay (LiPA), which produced results within a couple of weeks but which was still done at IRL.

The new diagnostic procedure has been performed on 34 patients so far, of whom four had tested positive for MDR TB.

Total cost

The total cost of treating a MDR TB patient was nearly Rs. 2 lakh, much higher compared to the Rs. 5,000 charged for treating patients with non-resistant tuberculosis, sources said.

Testing was performed free of cost for all TB patients undergoing treatment at both government and private hospitals.

TB Wing officials will individually follow up on patients undergoing treatment at government hospitals. Testing was done for patients from Tirupur, Coimbatore, The Nilgiris, Erode and Karur at the CMCH, sources said.

The equipment, which costs around Rs. 40 lakh, was installed under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) of the Union Government, with support from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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