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Pediatr Infect Dis J. 1999 Feb;18(2):122-6.

Diagnosis of pediatric tuberculosis in the modern era.

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Department of Pediatrics, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.



Correctly diagnosing tuberculosis (TB) in children is critical to provide appropriate treatment and to detect undiagnosed source cases. However, diagnosing TB in children may be difficult.


We sought to determine whether Amplicor, a Food and Drug Administration-approved polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay used to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis in sputum and computerized tomography (CT) would facilitate the diagnosis of TB in children. We also examined the applicability of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clinical case definition for TB.


A university-affiliated pediatric hospital in New York City.


From March, 1995, to November, 1997, 27 children < 15 years of age (mean age, 3.9 years) were evaluated for suspected TB.


M. tuberculosis was cultured from 5 of 76 (6.6%) gastric aspirate specimens, and PCR detected M. tuberculosis DNA in 3 (4.1%) of these specimens. There was poor correlation between culture and PCR because 6 specimens were discordant. CT scans were diagnostic of mediastinal or hilar adenopathy in 6 children with equivocal or negative chest radiographs and confirmed adenopathy in 8 others. Six children received alternative diagnoses.


We conclude that the commercially available PCR technology had very limited utility in detecting M. tuberculosis from gastric aspirates, but CT scans were useful in assessing pediatric patients with suspected TB.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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