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Free Content Normal chest radiography in pulmonary tuberculosis: implications for obtaining respiratory specimen cultures

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Abstract:

SETTING: Urban tuberculosis (TB) clinic, Nashville, Tennessee, USA.

OBJECTIVE: Chest radiographs (CXRs) help in the diagnosis of pulmonary TB, but may be normal. Mycobacterium tuberculosis in culture is diagnostic of TB, but cultures are not routinely obtained in resource-poor settings. We examined rates and risk factors for pulmonary TB associated with normal CXR.

DESIGN: An observational cohort study was performed among all respiratory culture-positive TB cases referred to the Nashville Health Department from October 1992 to July 2003. Clinical factors, demographics and underlying medical conditions were assessed.

RESULTS: Of 601 study patients, 53 (9%) had normal CXRs: 31/138 (22%) were human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infected and 22/463 (5%) were non-HIV-infected/unknown (P < 0.001). Among HIV-infected patients, normal CXR was more likely in persons with renal failure (13% vs. 3%, P = 0.048). Among non-HIV-infected/unknown patients, normal CXR was more likely in those who were asymptomatic at presentation (32% vs. 13%, P = 0.022). In multivariable logistic regression analysis, HIV infection was associated with an increased risk of normal CXR (odds ratio [OR] 6.61, P < 0.0001); factors associated with reduced risk were dyspnea (OR 0.24, P = 0.026), positive sputum smear (OR 0.45, P = 0.028) and cough (OR 0.48, P = 0.038).

CONCLUSIONS: The rate of normal CXR among persons with culture-confirmed pulmonary TB was high. Respiratory specimen cultures should be obtained in TB suspects with a normal CXR, particularly HIV-infected persons.

Keywords: M. tuberculosis; acquired immune-deficiency syndrome (AIDS); chest radiograph; human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee, USA 2: Groupe Haïtien d'Etude du Sarcome de Kaposi et des Infections Opportunistes (GHESKIO), Port-au-Prince, Haiti 3: Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee, USA 4: Nashville Metro Public Health Department Tuberculosis Clinic, Nashville, Tennessee, USA 5: Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee, USA; and Vanderbilt University Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Nashville, Tennessee, USA 6: Division of Infectious Diseases; and Center for Health Services Research, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Publication date: April 1, 2008

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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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