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Free Content Criteria used for the diagnosis of childhood tuberculosis at primary health care level in a high-burden, urban setting

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BACKGROUND: Children contribute a significant proportion of the total tuberculosis (TB) case load in high-burden settings and present a major diagnostic challenge.

OBJECTIVE: To document the criteria used at primary health care level to diagnose childhood TB in a high-burden, urban setting.

METHODS: This retrospective descriptive study was conducted at two primary health care clinics in Cape Town, South Africa. Information on all children (<15 years of age) entered into the TB register from January 2002 through December 2003 was retrieved for analysis.

RESULTS: During the study period, 1277 cases of TB were entered into the TB register, of which 268 (21.0%) were children. Information on 256 (95.5%) children was available for analysis. The majority (206, 80.5%) had intrathoracic TB, of whom 107 (51.5%) had uncomplicated lymph node disease, 79 (38.3%) complicated lymph node disease, 8 (3.9%) a pleural effusion and 12 (5.8%) adult-type cavitating disease. According to modified WHO criteria, the diagnosis of TB was confirmed in 27 (10.5%), probable in 193 (75.4%) and suspect in 36 (14.1%).

DISCUSSION: The diagnostic criteria used at primary health care level demonstrated good agreement with current guidelines, but depended heavily on chest radiograph interpretation.

Keywords: childhood; criteria; diagnosis; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Desmond Tutu TB Centre, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Publication date: November 1, 2005

More about this publication?
  • 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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