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Free Content Clinical and demographic aspects of extrathoracic tuberculosis: experience of an Italian university hospital

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OBJECTIVE: The decline of tuberculosis in industrialised countries concerns mainly its pulmonary forms. We have analysed all the cases of non-respiratory tuberculosis admitted to our hospital between January 2000 and June 2002, and compared epidemiological, clinical and diagnostic features in our area with those observed in other industrialised countries with high immigration rates.

DESIGN: Patients' records were retrospectively analysed for demographic, clinical, laboratory and instrumental data. Delays in the introduction of treatment were also measured. Characteristics of immigrants were compared with those of native-born persons. We also investigated specific features of extrathoracic tuberculosis affecting different body sites.

RESULTS: Forty-eight patients were identified, two thirds of whom were from industrialised countries. Age distribution was characteristically bimodal. Vertebral (n = 18) and lymph node (n = 11) tuberculosis were the most frequently detected forms. The therapeutic delay among individuals from industrialised countries was found to be significantly longer than that of their counterparts from developing countries (P = 0.05).

CONCLUSION: We hypothesise that the complex and non-standardised diagnostic approach to the different forms of extrathoracic tuberculosis forms and physicians' lack of awareness of the specific risk of each epidemiological group strongly influence the unacceptably long therapeutic delay. Extrathoracic tuberculosis was more neglected in native-born individuals than in immigrants.

Keywords: extra-pulmonary tuberculosis; industrialised countries; therapeutic delay

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Department of Epidemiology, University of Turin, Torino, Italy; and Department of Infectious Diseases, University of Verona, Verona, Italy 2: Department of Infectious Diseases, University of Verona, Verona, Italy

Publication date: April 1, 2004

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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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