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Free Content Tuberculous pleurisy with or without radiographic evidence of pulmonary disease. Is there any difference?

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Setting: A community teaching hospital in Alicante, Spain.

Objective: To assess the characteristics of tuberculous pleurisy (TP) in our hospital, and to evaluate the differences between primary and reactivation forms.

Design: Between January 1984 and December 1993, all human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-negative patients with TP were included in the study. From September 1987 onward, patients were prospectively studied. Charts, radiography, pleural fluid findings and diagnostic methods were evaluated. Two groups were distinguished according to chest radiographs: those patients with upper lobe lesions, calcified adenopathy and old pleural thickening were considered reactivation forms.

Results: Of the 129 patients (mean age, 31 ± 18 years), 76% had primary TP and 24% reactivation TP. Differences were found in age (28 ± 17 vs 40 ± 18 years, P < 0.01), smoking (43% vs 74%, P < 0.01) and alcohol abuse (23% vs 47%, P < 0.05), weight loss (29% vs 50%, P < 0.05), positive sputum smears and cultures (2% vs 16%, 7% vs 28%, P < 0.01), and number of large effusions (46% vs 26%, P < 0.05), but not in tuberculin reactivity, pleural fluid findings, positive pleural cultures, or presence of pleural granuloma.

Conclusion: In our setting, TP predominantly affects young adults. Clinical, immunological, and pleural findings are similar to those of patients with classic symptoms of TP. Older age, smoking and alcohol abuse, smaller effusions and sputum yield are differential characteristics of reactivation forms.
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Keywords: pleura; tuberculosis; tuberculous pleural effusion; tuberculous pleurisy

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Respiratory Service, Hospital General Universitario de Alicante, Alicante, Spain

Publication date: 1998-06-01

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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