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Free Content Combined bronchoalveolar lavage and polymerase chain reaction in the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis in smear-negative patients

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SETTING: The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) may be sensitive and specific for the diagnosis of tuberculosis, but most reports are of studies conducted in well-controlled laboratories. A study to evaluate the clinical value of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) combined with PCR was necessary.

OBJECTIVE: One hundred and thirty one patients were recruited into the study from March 1994 to February 1997.

DESIGN: Patients with a positive acid-fast stain on sputum smear were recruited into group A as positive controls, patients with lung cancer and a negative acid-fast stain on sputum smear were put into group B as negative controls, and patients who had clinical symptoms of pulmonary TB without sputum or with negative smear results were the investigating group. PCR was performed on the sputum samples from group A and B patients and on the BAL fluid from those in group C.

RESULTS: The sensitivity of PCR was 96% in group A, and the specificity was 100% in group B. The sensitivity of PCR in the BAL fluid from the group C patients was 36% and the specificity was 96%; the positive predictive value was 94% and the negative predictive value was 45%.

CONCLUSION: BAL plus PCR is useful in the rapid diagnosis of pulmonary TB in non-productive or smear-negative patients.
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Keywords: bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL); polymerase chain reaction (PCR); tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan 2: Department of Clinical Pathology, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan 3: Department of Public Health, College of Medicine, Chang Gung University, Taipei, Taiwan

Publication date: 2002-04-01

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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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