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Free Content Improved sputum microscopy for a more sensitive diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis [Technical note]

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Diagnosis of tuberculosis in low-income countries is hindered by the low sensitivity of direct sputum smear microscopy. We compared an improved method based on liquefaction of sputum with NaOCl followed by centrifugation with standard direct smear in a central hospital and at peripheral health centres in Honduras. Specificity was high and sensitivity significantly better with the NaOCl method. Moreover, this technique is safe, inexpensive and easy to perform. We recommend its implementation to enable rapid, sensitive laboratory diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis, especially in resource-poor settings where culture is not possible.
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Keywords: developing countries; diagnosis; microscopy; sodium hypochlorite; tuberculosis

Document Type: Short Communication

Affiliations: 1: Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, Solna, Sweden; Karolinska Institute, Division of International Health, Department of Public Health Sciences, Solna, Sweden; and Instituto Nacional del Tórax, Tegucigalpa, Honduras 2: Instituto Nacional del Tórax, Tegucigalpa, Honduras; and Physiology Department, School of Medicine, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Honduras, Honduras 3: Department of Microbiology, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Honduras, Tegucigalpa, Honduras 4: Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, Solna, Sweden

Publication date: 2000-07-01

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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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