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Free Content Acute respiratory distress syndrome in disseminated tuberculosis: an uncommon association

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OBJECTIVE: To analyse clinicopathological features of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in disseminated tuberculosis (TB) at autopsy.

METHODS: A retrospective analysis of an autopsy database of disseminated TB from 1990 to 2010 was conducted. ARDS cases were assessed for histological changes of diffuse alveolar damage (DAD) and other pathological pulmonary features.

RESULTS: Disseminated TB was diagnosed in 196 cases. The clinical diagnosis of disseminated TB was made in 67% of cases. Of the 196 cases, 10 met the clinical criteria for ARDS, 60% of whom showed histological evidence of DAD. One case of DAD was diagnosed on histology alone. DAD was thus found in 7/196 cases of disseminated TB. Other pulmonary changes included necrotising granulomas (n = 10), tuberculous bronchopneumonia (n = 4), tuberculous vasculitis (n = 3), infarction (n = 1) and aspergilloma (n = 1). Histopathological diagnosis other than DAD was found in 4/10 cases and disseminated TB was presumed clinically in only 4/10 cases of ARDS.

CONCLUSION: Disseminated TB may be clinically missed and diagnosed only post mortem. Disseminated TB is a relatively uncommon cause of ARDS; however, it should always be presumed clinically as it is a potentially treatable cause. DAD is a rare histological feature of disseminated TB and there may not always be a clinicopathological correlation between ARDS and DAD.
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Keywords: ARDS; autopsy; diffuse alveolar damage; disseminated TB

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: *Department of Histopathology 2: Internal Medicine, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India

Publication date: February 1, 2016

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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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