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Free Content Clinical aspects of miliary tuberculosis in Saudi adults

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OBJECTIVE: To review all cases of miliary tuberculosis (MT) over a period of 7 years in a Saudi Arabian population, to determine the clinical and laboratory characteristics and diagnostic methods, and to compare our data with others reported in the literature.

DESIGN: A retrospective case review.

RESULTS: Of 780 cases of active tuberculosis seen over period of 7 years, 47 (6%) had MT. The majority of the patients were aged over 60 years (68%). The most common symptoms were fever and weight loss. Risk factors were present in 70% of cases, mainly diabetes mellitus, history of prior tuberculosis, chronic liver and renal disease, immunosuppressive drug therapy and malignancy. Miliary pattern on chest radiography was seen in 89%. The most common laboratory abnormalities were anemia (66%), lymphopenia (89%), low albumin (87%), and high alkaline phosphatase (80%). Fiberoptic bronchoscopy was diagnostic in 7/10 (70%), bone marrow examination in 8/11 (73%), and liver biopsy in 14/16 (88%). High alkaline phosphatase and lymphopenia were associated with high yield of liver biopsies and bone marrow examination: 13/14 (93%) and 7/8 (88%), respectively. Death occurred in 10/47 (21%); all of these had radiological evidence of miliary pattern, and 80% had comorbid conditions.

CONCLUSION: These data confirm and extend the results of other studies and suggest that MT is a disease of the elderly and immunocompromised, and is associated with high mortality. A high index of suspicion is required for diagnosis.
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Keywords: biopsy; disseminated; miliary; pulmonary; radiography; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Department of Pulmonary and Infectious Disease, King Fahad National Guard Hospital, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Publication date: March 1, 2000

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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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