Direct gas-liquid chromatography of faecal specimens with isocaproic acid as a marker was used for the rapid diagnosis of Clostridium difficile associated diarrhoeal diseases. Ninety stools were examined and results were compared with conventional culture on selective medium and cytotoxin assay in tissue culture. Using a combined analysis of isocaproic acid and butyric acid peak heights we defined three categories: positive, negative, and indeterminate. When the indeterminate group was excluded, the positive and negative predictive values of gas-liquid chromatography analysis were 86.9% and 85% respectively compared with culture and 71.4% and 95% respectively compared with cytotoxin assay.
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