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Clinical Investigations: TUBERCULOSIS |

Tuberculous Pleural Effusion in Children*

José M. Merino, MD; Isabel Carpintero, MD; Teresa Alvarez, MD; Jesús Rodrigo, MD; Jesús Sánchez, MD; José M. Coello, MD
Author and Funding Information

*From the Pediatric (Drs. Merino, Carpintero, Alvarez, Rodrigo, and Sánchez) and Radiologic (Dr. Coello) Departments, General Yagüe Hospital, Burgos, Spain.



Chest. 1999;115(1):26-30. doi:10.1378/chest.115.1.26
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Study objectives: To describe the age distribution, clinical, laboratory, radiographic, and bacteriologic findings of pediatric patients with tuberculous pleural effusion.

Design: A retrospective study.

Patients and methods: We have identified all cases of primary pulmonary tuberculosis in children < 18 years, reported to the health department. We have collected information from medical records regarding demographics, clinical findings, bacteriologic results, and evolution. Chest radiographs obtained at the time of initial evaluation were reviewed independently by two groups of radiologists who were blind to the clinical and epidemiologic data.

Results: Between January 1983 and December 1996, 175 children <18 years were diagnosed as having primary pulmonary tuberculosis. Among them, 39 patients (22.1%) showed pleural effusion on chest radiograph. The mean age of patients with tuberculous pleural effusion was significantly higher (13.52 ± 0.5 years vs 6.97 ± 0.42 years). The sensitivity of the tuberculin test is 97.4% for an induration ≥ 5 mm. Pleural fluid analysis shows a lymphocytic exudative effusion. Chest radiograph review showed unilateral pleural effusion in all cases. Pleural effusion was the sole radiographic manifestation in 41% of cases. Parenchymal disease is associated in 23 cases (59%). Bacteriologic confirmation of tuberculosis was achieved in 22 cases (56.4%). Cultures of pleural fluid and biopsy material both yielded Mycobacterium tuberculosis in 15 of 34 (44.1%) and 12 of 18 (66.6%), respectively, for samples under study. Pleural biopsy specimens showed granulomatous inflammation in 18 of 23 cases (78.3%). Antituberculous therapy for 6 to 9 months was effective in all cases. Transient side effects occurred in 1 of 39 patients (2.9%).

Conclusions: Pleural effusion accounts for 22.1% of cases of pediatric pulmonary tuberculosis. Parenchymal consolidation is the most common associated radiographic finding. Bacteriologic confirmation was achieved in 56.4% of cases. A short course of chemotherapy is effective.

Abbreviations: ADA = adenosine deaminase activity; LDH = lactate dehydrogenase; TB = tuberculosis; TPE =tuberculous pleural effusion


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