Expert Rev Mol Diagn. 2021 Mar 19. doi: 10.1080/14737159.2021.1906652. Online ahead of print.
Nosocomial infections represent a major problem for the health-care systems worldwide. Currently, diagnosis relies on microbiological culture, which is slow and has poor sensitivity. While waiting for a diagnosis, patients are treated with empiric broad spectrum antimicrobials, which are often inappropriate for the infecting pathogen. This results in poor patient outcomes, poor antimicrobial stewardship and increased costs for health-care systems.Areas covered: Clinical metagenomics (CMg), the application of metagenomic sequencing for the diagnosis of infection, has the potential to become a viable alternative to culture that can offer rapid results with high accuracy. In this article we review current CMg methods for the diagnosis of nosocomial bloodstream (BSI) and lower respiratory-tract infections (LRTI).Expert opinion: CMg approaches are more accurate in LRTI compared to BSI. This is because BSIs are caused by low pathogen numbers in a high background of human cells. To overcome this, most approaches focus on cell-free DNA, but, to date, these tests are not accurate enough yet to replace blood culture. The higher pathogen numbers in LRTI samples make this a more suitable for CMg and accurate approaches have been developed, which are likely to be implemented in hospitals within the next 2-5 years.