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Free Content Tuberculous pleurisy as a manifestation of primary and reactivation disease in a region with a high prevalence of tuberculosis

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SETTING: A teaching hospital in Malaysia.

OBJECTIVE: To review the demographic and clinical features of patients with pleural tuberculosis (TB).

DESIGN: Retrospective chart and chest radiograph review.

RESULTS: The chest radiograph of 54 (61.4%) of a total of 88 patients with pleural TB did not show any lung infiltrate (considered a manifestation of primary TB), while that of 32 (36.3%) patients showed infiltrates in the upper lobes or superior segment of the lower lobes, or the presence of parenchymal scarring in the upper lobes (typical of reactivation TB). Additionally, the chest radiograph of two (2.3%) patients showed miliary mottling (also classified as having primary TB). The mean age of patients with primary versus reactivation tuberculous pleurisy was 36.3 (±14.8) years and 44.6 (±19.3) years, respectively (P = 0.041). The median duration of symptoms before presentation was 14 days and 60 days in patients with primary and reactivation disease, respectively (P = 0.001).

CONCLUSION: In Malaysia, where the prevalence of TB is high, tuberculous pleurisy is more commonly a manifestation of primary rather than reactivation disease. Patients with primary TB pleurisy are younger and have a shorter duration of symptoms than those with reactivation TB pleurisy.

Keywords: pleural; primary; reactivation; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Department of Medicine, University of Malaya Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Publication date: September 1, 1999

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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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