Respiratory illnesses are scary and sometimes deadly events. To keep them under control and get patients the treatment they need before serious symptoms or permanent damage occurs, accurate tests are crucial.  

There are many different types of tests for diseases, however, but each come with their advantages and disadvantages.  

Are PCR-based Panels Effective? 

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is a process in which medical professionals take a sample to detect the presence of a virus. The technique isolates specific sequences of genetic material and rapidly replicates them, so their presence is apparent. 

If the virus is not present, it’s unlikely that these tests will return positive. When samples do contain the targeted virus, PCR takes this information and creates lots of copies so that it becomes detectable.  

There are many diseases this approach detects, however, it is not a universal tool. Different tests test for different things (much like how your flu tests could not identify COVID-19). A respiratory viral panel, or RVP, can include any number of these tests.  

These tests are highly accurate, however, sometimes this sensitivity means that tests come back positive despite infections reaching a state of “no longer clinically relevant.” In other words, tests come back positive after symptoms are over or tests just detect “leftovers.” 

This sensitivity is not a bad thing, though. It means that it helps with asymptomatic cases which is incredibly important in terms of contagious infections and preserving the safety of the community.  

However, it does make things a bit confusing for determining the culprits behind certain cases. For example, over a hundred adults received weekly RVP testing for an entire year for a study. They found that diseases like bocavirus and rhinovirus had a lot of positives in asymptomatic cases.  

For some cases, it is up to the medical care provider to decide of symptom presence and a positive test is an actual infection or a mere coincidence. Even if symptoms arise from a disease, there is the chance that some other infection is there simultaneously.  

Remember, these tests don’t necessarily test for everything you should look for – even in terms of just respiratory tract infections. In cases where the symptoms seem alarming or there is the chance of something more serious, consider exploring other tests in addition to these PCR tests.  

If misdiagnosed, doctors may overlook other diseases and fail to treat them, so this is an important thing to keep in mind.  

Our community at PCR-Dx is here to help you learn about the services available to you. Our cutting-edge facilities and state-of-the-art equipment have everything you need for affordable and accurate results. We aim to bring you fast results during these uncertain times. You can count on us to provide reliable services you can trust and depend on. Contact us today for more information about the testing options that will work with your institution.