Published online May 20, 2022. doi: 10.5662/wjm.v12.i3.83
Peer-review started: January 26, 2021
First decision: July 18, 2021
Revised: July 31, 2021
Accepted: April 21, 2022
Article in press: April 21, 2022
Published online: May 20, 2022
Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) has become a pandemic, being a global health concern since December 2019 when the first cases were reported. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, the COVID-19 causal agent, is a β-coronavirus that has on its surface the spike protein, which helps in its virulence and pathogenicity towards the host. Thus, effective and applicable diagnostic methods to this disease come as an important tool for the management of the patients. The use of the molecular technique PCR, which allows the detection of the viral RNA through nasopharyngeal swabs, is considered the gold standard test for the diagnosis of COVID-19. Moreover, serological methods, such as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and rapid tests, are able to detect severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2-specific immunoglobulin A, immunoglobulin M, and immunoglobulin G in positive patients, being important alternative techniques for the diagnostic establishment and epidemiological surveillance. On the other hand, reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification also proved to be a useful diagnostic method for the infection, mainly because it does not require a sophisticated laboratory apparatus and has similar specificity and sensitivity to PCR. Complementarily, imaging exams provide findings of typical pneumonia, such as the ground-glass opacity radiological pattern on chest computed tomography scanning, which along with laboratory tests assist in the diagnosis of COVID-19.
Core Tip: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 is primarily detected by PCR, which is the gold standard diagnostic method to detect viral RNA. On the other hand, techniques such as serology with detection of immunoglobulin M and immunoglobulin G antibodies, imaging, and laboratory tests also assist in the diagnosis of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection. Moreover, the reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification has similar specificity and sensitivity to PCR. In this review, we discuss the main diagnostic methods and their uses in the current pandemic.