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Nasopharyngeal aspiration for diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Stephen Owens


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Background: Confirmation of pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) in young children is difficult as they seldom expectorate sputum. Aim: To compare sputa obtained by nasopharyngeal aspiration and by sputum induction for staining and culture of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Patients and methods: Patients from Mulago Hospital, Kampala with symptoms suggestive of PTB were considered for inclusion in the study. Those with a positive tuberculin test and/or a chest radiograph compatible with tuberculosis were recruited. Infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was confirmed by duplicate enzyme-labelled immunosorbent assay or in children <15 months by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Direct PCR was undertaken on 82 nasopharyngeal aspirates. Results: Of 438 patients referred, 94 were recruited over a period of 5 months. Median (range) age was 48 (4–144) months. Of 63 patients tested, 69.8% were infected with HIV. Paired and uncontaminated culture results were available for 88 patients and smear results for 94 patients. Nasopharyngeal aspirates were smear-positive in 8.5% and culture-positive in 23.9%. Induced sputa were smear-positive in 9.6% and culture positive in 21.6%. Overall, 10.6% were smear-positive, 25.5% were culture-positive and 26.6% had smear and/or culture confirmed tuberculosis. Direct PCR on nasopharyngeal aspirates had a sensitivity of 62% and specificity of 98% for confirmation of culture-positive tuberculosis. Conclusions: Nasopharyngeal aspiration is a useful, safe and low-technology method for confirmation of PTB and, like sputum induction, can be undertaken in outpatient clinics.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Owens S, Abdel-Rahman IE, Balyejusa S, Musoke P, Cooke RP, Parry CM, Coulter JB

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Archives of Disease in Childhood

Year: 2007

Volume: 92

Issue: 8

Pages: 693-696

ISSN (print): 0003-9888

ISSN (electronic): 1468-2044

Publisher: BMJ Group


DOI: 10.1136/adc.2006.108308

PubMed id: 17185437


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