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The Cape Town Clinical Decision Rule for Streptococcal Pharyngitis in Children.


Existing clinical decision rules (CDR) to diagnose group A streptococcal (GAS) pharyngitis have not been validated in sub-Saharan Africa. We developed a locally applicable CDR while evaluating existing CDRs for diagnosing GAS pharyngitis in South African children.We conducted a prospective cohort study and enrolled 997 children aged 3-15 years presenting to primary care clinics with a complaint of sore throat, and whose parents provided consent. Main outcome measures were signs and symptoms of pharyngitis, and a positive GAS culture from a throat swab. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to develop the clinical decision rule. In addition, the diagnostic effectiveness of six existing rules for predicting a positive culture in our cohort was assessed.206 of 982 children (21%) had a positive GAS culture. Tonsillar swelling, tonsillar exudates, tender or enlarged anterior cervical lymph nodes, absence of cough and absence of rhinorrhea were associated with positive cultures in bivariate and multivariate analyses. Four variables (tonsillar swelling and one of tonsillar exudate, no rhinorrhea, no cough), when used in a cumulative score, showed 83.7% sensitivity and 32.2% specificity for GAS pharyngitis. Of existing rules tested, the McIsaac rule had the highest positive predictive value (28%), but missed 49% of the culture-positive children who should have been treated.The new four-variable clinical decision rule for GAS pharyngitis (i.e., tonsillar swelling and one of tonsillar exudate, no rhinorrhea, no cough) outperformed existing rules for GAS pharyngitis diagnosis in children with symptomatic sore throat in Cape Town.