Introduction: Acute gastroenteritis is one of the most common causes of hospital admission in children. Treatment regimens differ depending on the pathogen. In our study, we aimed to evaluate the epidemiological and clinical features of pediatric patients whose gastrointestinal agents were detected by multiplex PCR.
Materials and methods: The study included 131 pediatric patients who were followed up at Eskişehir Osmangazi University, Pediatric Department between January 2018 and December 2021.Gastrointestinal pathogens were detected in stool samples by multiplex PCR. The epidemiological and clinical features were reviewed retrospectively.
Results: A total of 203 gastrointestinal pathogens were detected from the stool samples of 131 cases. Of these cases, 56% were male and 44% were female. The mean age was 66 (2-204) months. The most common symptoms were diarrhea, fever, vomiting and abdominal pain. The pathogen detection rate was 69% by multiplex PCR. A single pathogen was detected in 85 (65%) cases and multiple pathogens were detected in 46 (35%) cases. The most common pathogens were enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC, 23%), Clostridium difficile (21%), norovirus (17%), rotavirus (15%), salmonella (12%) and enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC, 11%). Stool culture was positive in 16 (12%) cases and microscopic examination positive in 17 (13%) cases. Probiotic treatment was given to 119 (92%) cases and antimicrobial treatment (metroinidazole, ceftriaxone, azithromycin and oral vancomycin) to 34 (26%) cases. Of the cases, 56 (42%) had chronic disease, 40 (30%) had a history of previous antibiotic use and 17 (13%) had a history of hospitalization in the intensive care unit.
Conclusion: The sensitivity of the multiplex PCR in the detection of acute gastroenteritis agents is higher than stool microscopy, stool culture and stool antigen tests. However, due to the inability to distinguish between colonization, carrier state and pathogenicity, it should be evaluated together with other diagnostic tests and clinical findings in order to determine whether the determined agent is pathogenic or not and in the regulation of antimicrobial therapy.
Keywords: diarrhea; multiplex PCR; pediatric.