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Free Content Radiographic manifestations of culture-positive pulmonary tuberculosis: cavitary or non-cavitary?

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OBJECTIVE: To examine the radiographic pattern of patients with pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) in Saudi Arabia and the relation of these findings to demographic and microbiological data.

DESIGN: A retrospective hospital-based series of patients with culture-positive PTB.

RESULTS: Among 168 cases of culture-positive PTB identified, 97 (57.7%) were males and 71 females (42.3%); 136 (81%) were Saudis and 19% were non-Saudis. The mean age was 52.3 ± 19.2 years: nine (5.4%) were children aged ≤18 years and 64 (38.1%) were adults aged >60 years. Overall, 121 (78%) had upper lobe infiltrates, 35 (19.7%) had cavitary lesions and 33 (19.6%) had both upper lobe infiltrate and cavitation. Lymphadenopathy and pleural effusion were each present in 11.3% of the patients. Patients aged >60 years were less likely to have upper lobe infiltrate (38/64, 59.4%) compared to children (7/9, 77.8%) and adults aged 19–60 years (76/95, 80%, P = 0.001). Diabetes mellitus was documented in 57/135 (42.2%) patients. There was no difference in the presence of upper lobe infiltrate and the presence of cavitation in patients with and without diabetes mellitus.

CONCLUSION: Cavitary or upper lobe infiltrate remains a common presentation of PTB. As patients aged >60 years often present with no cavitation and without upper lobe infiltrate, it is important to keep in mind the possibility of tuberculosis in this group of patients.

Keywords: Mycobacterium tuberculosis; TB, chest X-ray; radiography; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Internal Medicine Services Division, Dhahran Health Centre, Saudi Aramco Medical Services Organization, Saudi Aramco, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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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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