Isolation and deisolation of patients admitted with presumptive pulmonary tuberculosis. Can it be shortened?

Research paper by Fatehi E FE Elzein, Nisreen N Alsherbeeni, Mohammed M Mursi, Shoug F SF Algoblan, Abuzaid A AA Abuzaid, Ali M AM Albarrak

Indexed on: 09 Oct '19Published on: 08 Oct '19Published in: Saudi medical journal


To determine the ideal number of sputum acid-fast bacilli (AFB) smears and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) required for discontinuing TB isolation among patients with suspected pulmonary TB.  Methods: This was a single-center, record-based retrospective study of all admitted patients diagnosed with culture-proven pulmonary TB between 2010 and 2018. The study was conducted at Prince Sultan Military Medical City (PSMMC) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a large tertiary care center consisting of 1,200 beds. Data were obtained from our TB notification records. Patients with smear-positive TB were investigated. Only the first 3 sputum smears for AFB were included in the analysis. The  PCR results for Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) were also included in the study. The incremental yield of the second and third smears was assessed.  Results: Overall, 240 patients were MTB-culture positive. A total of 126 (52.5%) patients were smear and culture positive, whereas 114 were culture positive but smear negative. Of 126 patients who were AFB smear positive, 98 (77.8%) were detected in the first specimen, 13 (10.3%) in the second specimen, and only 9 (7.1%) in the third specimen. Polymerase chain reaction for MTB was positive in 122 (96.8%) smear-positive patients. Four patients did not undergo a PCR test.  Conclusion:  A single Xpert MTB/resistance to rifampicin test detected all smear-positive patients, whereas the third smear did not significantly contribute to MTB isolation.