Predictive factors for tuberculosis in patients with a TB-PCR-negative bronchial aspirate
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Pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB), with a tuberculosis (TB)-polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-negative bronchial aspirate (BA), but a positive culture result is often encountered in clinical practice. However, limited data are available concerning clinical judgment in patients with suspected PTB and a TB-PCR-negative BA pending culture results. The present study aimed to identify predictors for PTB in patients with a TB-PCR-negative BA.
A retrospective study was conducted on patients who had undergone a bronchoscopy because of suspected PTB. Clinical, laboratory, and computed tomography (CT) findings were investigated in PTB patients with TB-PCR-negative but positive culture BA results, and non-PTB patients with a radiographic lesion comparable to the former.
Of 250 patients screened, 31 (12 %) were diagnosed with PTB by positive culture results only. Of these 31 patients, 30 (97 %) had a lesion within one-third of the hemithorax as determined by chest radiography. In the final analysis of 30 PTB and 65 non-PTB patients with comparable radiographic lesions, a positive QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube (QFT) result was independently associated with an increased risk of a positive TB culture. CT findings of consolidation were a negative predictor for PTB. Patients with a negative QFT result and consolidation had a negative predictive value of 95 % for PTB, while patients with a positive QFT result and nodular CT abnormalities without consolidation had a positive predictive value of 86 % for PTB.
The simple combination of CT findings of consolidation and QFT test results may help clinicians to refine decision-making in patients with a TB-PCR-negative BA.