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Free Content Yield of continued monthly sputum evaluation among tuberculosis patients after culture conversion

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SETTING: New York City.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the yield of continued monthly sputum monitoring after culture conversion.

DESIGN: A retrospective review of tuberculosis patients verified between 1 January 1995 and 31 December 1996 who had: 1) pulmonary tuberculosis with organisms susceptible to isoniazid and rifampin; 2) culture conversion; and 3) completed therapy. We assessed time to smear and culture conversion and number of persons who developed a positive culture after culture conversion (culture reversion).

RESULTS: Of 1440 patients, 379 were cared for by tuberculosis control program providers and 1061 were cared for by other providers; 813 (56%) were initially smear-positive. After the fifth month, 44 (5.3%) were smear-positive; four of these were culture-positive. Eighteen (1.3%) had culture reversions; eight were smear-positive. Excluding one specimen per patient collected at treatment completion, 7967 sputum samples were collected after culture conversion. The minimum estimated cost per culture reversion detected was $26557.

CONCLUSION: Continued monthly monitoring of sputum after culture conversion identified a very small number of patients who had culture reversion. However, patients who cannot tolerate or adhere to a standard regimen may need continued monitoring to assess response to treatment. For all patients a specimen should be collected at the end of treatment to document cure.

Keywords: monitoring; pulmonary tuberculosis; sputum; treatment

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: New York City Department of Health, Tuberculosis Control Program, New York, New York, USA 2: New York City Department of Health, Tuberculosis Control Program, New York, New York, USA and Division of Tuberculosis Elimination, National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Publication date: 2002-03-01

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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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