Free Content A clinical prediction rule for pulmonary tuberculosis in emergency departments

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SETTING: University-affiliated hospital located in an area with a high incidence of pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB).

OBJECTIVE: To develop a clinical prediction rule (CPR) based on information obtainable on admission, to permit rapid identification of patients with PTB.

DESIGN: Information from patients with respiratory symptoms who attended the emergency department of Cayetano Heredia Hospital, Lima, Peru, was collected prospectively. Clinical symptoms, past medical history, demographic data and results of chest X-rays (CXRs), sputum smear and culture in Löwenstein-Jensen media were obtained. Based on logistic regression, we constructed a scoring system to predict PTB.

RESULTS: A total of 345 patients were enrolled in the study, including 109 (31%) culture-proven PTB cases. In logistic regression analysis, we found age, previous history of PTB, weight loss, presence of cavities, upper lobe infiltrate and miliary pattern on CXR as independent predictors of PTB. We designed a scoring system with these variables, taking into account their statistical weight. The score attained 93% sensitivity and 42% specificity.

CONCLUSION: The CPR that was developed performed well in our population. It merits further validation in other settings. It should not, however, replace, but should complement sputum microscopy when deciding on isolation, and it does not preclude microbiology in making a definitive diagnosis.

Keywords: clinical prediction rule; emergency department; isolation; pulmonary tuberculosis; score

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Hospital Nacional Hipólito Unanue, Lima, Peru 2: Washington Hospital Center, Internal Medicine Department, Washington DC, USA; and Instituto de Medicina Tropical Alexander Von Humboldt, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru 3: Hospital Nacional Hipólito Unanue, Lima, Peru; and Instituto de Medicina Tropical Alexander Von Humboldt, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru 4: Hospital Nacional Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru 5: Instituto de Medicina Tropical Alexander Von Humboldt, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru 6: Epidemiology and Disease Control Unit, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium

Publication date: June 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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