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Diagnostic value of bronchoscopy in sputum-negative pulmonary tuberculosis patients and its correlation with clinicoradiological features

Sadia Imtiaz, Enas Mansour Batubara
Published: 1 January 2022
 by  Medknow

Abstract: CONTEXT: Tuberculosis (TB) remains endemic in Saudi Arabia. Little local data have been reported on bronchoscopic evaluation of sputum-negative pulmonary TB patients, which poses a significant diagnostic and therapeutic challenge. AIMS: To determine the diagnostic value of bronchoscopy and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and its correlation with clinical and radiological features in sputum-negative, culture-confirmed pulmonary TB patients. METHODS: We performed a retrospective analysis of patients with definite or probable pulmonary TB with overall negative (smear and/or polymerase chain reaction [PCR]) or scanty sputum that had undergone bronchoscopy with BAL over a period of 5 years. Patients' symptoms, radiological features, lung lobe lavaged, BAL acid-fast bacilli (AFB) stain, Mycobacterium TB (MTB)-PCR, and mycobacterial cultures were analyzed. Mycobacterial cultures (either sputum or BAL) were used as a reference standard. RESULTS: Out of 154 patients, 49 (32%) were overall sputum negative and underwent a diagnostic bronchoscopy. Dry cough and fever were the most common symptoms. Uncontrolled diabetes mellitus was the most frequent comorbidity identified in 15 (31%) patients. Fifty-nine percent of the patients had diffuse lung infiltrates, with consolidation being the most common abnormality (41%), followed by cavitation (39%). Right upper lobe was the most frequent lung lobe lavaged (31%), while transbronchial lung biopsies (TBLB) were obtained in 21 (43%). BAL mycobacterial culture and MTB PCR were positive in 35 (71%) and 23 (47%) patients, respectively. Combined BAL MTB PCR and TBLB provided rapid diagnosis in 28 (57%) patients. CONCLUSIONS: An overall diagnostic yield of 90% was achieved with combined use of BAL MTB PCR, culture, and histopathology. Upper lobe lavage and presence of cavities on chest imaging had a higher diagnostic yield.
Keywords: Bronchoalveolar lavage / bronchoscopy / Mycobacterium tuberculosis polymerase chain reaction / sputum negative / tuberculosis

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