The genetic method

The wide range of diagnostic tests available on the market might make it difficult to choose the most suitable one. How can you decide which of the many methods used will be the best?

Apart from standard microbiological techniques, such as culture and microscopic examination, pathogen-specific antibody tests and genetic tests are also used. The latter are considered to be the most reliable diagnostic method. An unquestionable advantage of genetic testing is, above all, the accuracy in identifying a specific pathogen. Moreover, the genetic tests available on the market enable simultaneous examination of several types of microorganisms during one analysis.

When selecting a genetic test, attention should be paid to the number of infectious agents tested – there are tests that detect one or more pathogens in a single test. Selecting the widest panel increases the probability of detecting a specific infectious agent. Many infections can have similar symptoms, and mixed infections, i.e. those which are caused by several pathogens at the same time, are also not infrequent.

The genetic method is based on the search for the genetic material of the pathogen in the analysed sample. The material to be tested is a swab from a potentially infected site. The place of sampling can be: urethra, coronal sulcus, cervix, vagina, and oral cavity. Men can take their own swabs. Women should go to a gynaecologist or midwife in order to obtain proper material for the examination. The result of the genetic test is unmistakable. The presence or absence of a specific infectious agent in the test material is unequivocally confirmed.

The result should be interpreted by a doctor who will analyse it in conjunction with the patient’s clinical symptoms, diagnose it and propose appropriate treatment. The advantage of using tests based on molecular biology is that they can be performed quickly – just a few days after a potential infection.