Evaluation of a commercial multiplex molecular panel for diagnosis of infectious meningitis and encephalitis

Rachael M. Liesman, Angela P. Strasburg, Angela K. Heitman, Elitza S. Theel, Robin Patel, Matthew J. Binnicker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Rapid and accurate laboratory tests are important for the timely diagnosis and treatment of central nervous system infections. The FilmArray meningitis/ encephalitis (ME) panel (BioFire Diagnostics, Salt Lake City, UT) is an FDA-cleared, multiplex molecular panel that allows the detection of 14 pathogens (bacterial [n 6], viral [n 7], and fungal [n 1] pathogens) from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). In this study, we evaluated the performance characteristics of the FilmArray ME panel using clinical, residual CSF samples (n 291) that tested positive by a routine method(s) (e.g., bacterial culture, individual real-time PCR assay) for a pathogen represented on the ME panel. Of note, a subset (n 76) of the CSF specimens was collected during the prevaccine era and had been characterized as positive for a bacterial pathogen. The FilmArray ME panel demonstrated an overall percent positive agreement (PPA) of 97.5% (78/80) for bacterial pathogens, 90.1% (145/161) for viruses, and 52% (26/50) for Cryptococcus neoformans/C. gattii. Despite the low overall agreement (52%) between the ME panel and antigen testing for detection of C. neoformans/C. gattii, the percent positive agreement of the FilmArray assay for C. neoformans/C. gattii was 92.3% (12/13) when the results were compared directly to the results of routine fungal smear or culture. The FilmArray ME panel offers a rapid (60-min), syndrome-based approach for the detection of select meningitis and encephalitis pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere01927
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Meningitis
  • Multiplex molecular panel
  • encephalitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)


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