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Free Content Value of bone marrow biopsy in children with suspected disseminated mycobacterial disease

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BACKGROUND: Disseminated tuberculosis (TB) is a severe form of disease that can be difficult to diagnose or exclude. The diagnostic role of bone marrow biopsy and culture in children with suspected disseminated TB is not clearly defined.

METHODOLOGY: In a prospective hospital-based study conducted from November 2007 to October 2008, bone marrow biopsy and culture were performed in all children referred with possible disseminated TB; relevant clinical and laboratory data were reviewed.

RESULTS: Thirty-five children were included in the study. An alternative diagnosis was established in 10 (29%) and mycobacterial disease confirmed or probable in 25 (71%). Among those with mycobacterial disease, multiple respiratory specimens provided the best yield (17/25; 68%). Bone marrow histology and/or culture were positive in 5/25 (20%), but were frequently collected after initiation of TB treatment. Blood cultures were positive in only one patient. Mycobacterium tuberculosis accounted for 16/19 (84%) confirmed cases, M.bovis bacille Calmette-Guérin for one, M. avium complex for one, and one was culture-negative. Histology results were available within 24 hours; TB was confirmed exclusively by bone marrow in two cases.

CONCLUSION: Bone marrow biopsy is a valuable diagnostic procedure in children with suspected disseminated mycobacterial disease. Ideally, patients should be referred prior to treatment initiation.
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Keywords: bone marrow; children; disseminated tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

Publication date: 2011-02-01

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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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