Study designs of evaluations included in the review
No inclusion criteria relating to the study design were specified. The included studies were diagnostic cohort studies and diagnostic case-control studies.
Specific interventions included in the review
Studies of phage tests were eligible for inclusion. The studies assessed both commercial and in-house assays. The commercial tests evaluated were FASTPlaque and PhageTek. All but one of the studies used a threshold of 20 or more plaques as a positive test; the other study classified any visible plaques as positive. All studies of commercial assays processed samples using a standard N-acetyl-L-cysteine-sodium hydroxide (NALC-NaOH) method.
Reference standard test against which the new test was compared
Studies that included culture (either liquid or solid media) as the reference standard were eligible for inclusion. The reference standards used in the included studies were BACTEC 460, Lowenstein Jensen (LJ) medium, BACTEC and LJ, and LJ or Amplified Mycobacterium tuberculosis Direct Test.
Participants included in the review
No inclusion criteria relating to the participants were specified. Most studies included patients with suspected pulmonary tuberculosis, although some studies included non-respiratory specimens in addition to sputa. Some studies included only untreated patients; others included both treated and untreated patients.
Outcomes assessed in the review
In order to be included in the review, the studies had to report sufficient data for the calculation of both the sensitivity and specificity.
How were decisions on the relevance of primary studies made?
Two reviewers independently screened titles and abstracts. Any disagreements were resolved through consensus.