Ask the Expert: COVID-19 Testing
What procedures seem to have the most impact on patients?
Christian Clevenger | Integrity Laboratory
I enjoy all aspects of plastic and reconstructive surgery. I particularly enjoy restorative surgery after weight loss, pregnancy and to reverse the effects of aging. People are living longer and healthier lives than ever before and want to look the way they feel.
What would you say to someone considering plastic surgery, but reluctant?
I would tell them that doing something for yourself is not selfish, as the most common reluctance I hear voiced is that the patient feels guilty for having “cosmetic surgery.”
How has the pandemic shifted how plastic surgery is handled?
The pandemic has been a monumental challenge to our patients and our society. From the beginning, we have adapted to provide the safest environment possible with protocols for safe delivery of care. We have exceeded the requirements of the local, state and CDC guidelines and will continue many of these protocols well after the pandemic has passed. Telemedicine in particular is something we will continue as part of core options for patients.
How do you stay updated on the developments and advancements in your profession?
Staying up to date is so much more efficient than ever before because of access to technology that rapidly disseminates knowledge. I also listen to my patients carefully and never forget that what is important to them drives my hunger for knowledge to fulfill their needs in the safest and most effective way.
What is one of the latest advancements in plastic surgery that you are performing at the practice?
While the core surgical procedures of plastic surgery have remained essentially the same for many years, evolving technology has provided us with an ever-increasing ability to treat patient concerns with minimally and noninvasive technologies. I have always felt it important to offer as many of these technologies as possible to our patients once they have proven their efficacy and safety. These technologies include various types of lasers, radiofrequency devices, “cold technology” to reduce adipose tissue (fatty tissue), skin care products, fillers, and neurotoxins.
How has Integrity played a role in the testing of COVID-19?
This January, Integrity Laboratories became the first commercial company in the US to offer a quantitative COVID-19 test. Until now, tests were reported as either positive or negative. AmpliteCt™ (pronounced “Am-pli-tect”) uses several key metrics, including Ct scores, to assign a quantitative viral index for each patient specimen, something not possible in either antigen or antibody tests. Knowing a patient’s viral load can help clinicians prescribe therapies with greater acuity, potentially improving outcomes for patients.
How accurate is PCR in detecting COVID-19?
The real time RT-PCR for the detection of the virus that causes COVID-19 is the most accurate molecular diagnostic technique currently used for testing of both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. Its accuracy is approximately 95-100 percent.
How often does someone get a false positive test?
With real time RT-PCR, there is almost zero chance of getting a false positive test when the sample is collected properly and the assay is performed correctly. We use stringent processes and controls to ensure that each test is performed correctly every time. The RT-PCR assay is designed to recognize the specific genetic information of a particular virus; it does not recognize other viruses unless testing for those. The specificity of this test is 100 percent; it does not confuse COVID-19 with other viruses or pathogens that may be present. The test is highly sensitive and can detect up to only a few copies of the virus’s gene in the specimen.
How does your test differ from other PCR tests that advertise “rapid results”?
Our RT-PCR test is “rapid” as well. Integrity Laboratories provides results from submitted COVID-19 molecular specimens within 24 hours, with an average of six to eight hours from receipt of the specimen. There are other types of molecular testing for COVID-19 called antigen tests (designed to detect the presence of virus) and antibody, or serology, tests (designed to identify whether you’ve had a past infection in your blood), but neither are as sensitive as RT-PCR. For antibody and antigen tests, the results can be obtained within a few minutes; however, accuracy of those tests is much lower when compared to RT-PCR test.