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Infection. 2008 Aug;36(4):335-40. doi: 10.1007/s15010-008-7199-8. Epub 2008 Jul 15.

The impact of age on the demographic, clinical, radiographic characteristics and treatment outcomes of pulmonary tuberculosis patients in Taiwan.

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Dept. of Internal Medicine, Kaohsiung Municipal Hsiao-Kang Hospital, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, ROC.



The characteristics of pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) in the elderly are different from young patients. This leads to delay in diagnosis and higher mortality from TB in the aged population. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of age on the demographic, clinical, radiographic characteristics, and treatment outcomes of pulmonary TB patients in Taiwan.


We performed a retrospective analysis of the medical charts and chest radiographs of 83 elderly (> or =60 years old) and 74 young (< 60 years old) culture-proven pulmonary TB patients from 1 August 2003 to 31 July 2006.


Elderly patients showed lower frequencies of infectious TB contact history, alcoholism, cavity, and positive acid-fast bacilli sputum smears. In contrast, the elderly population had higher frequencies of chronic obstructive lung disease, heart failure, stroke, dyspnea, lower lung field involvement, pleural effusion and mortality. There were no differences between these two groups regarding sex, initial body weight, previous TB disease, hospital admission, diabetes mellitus, end-stage renal disease, neoplasm, liver cirrhosis, upper lung field involvement, cure, and treatment completion. Furthermore, age of 60 and older, lower initial body weight less than 50 kg, coexisting medical diseases, and extensive radiographic disease were factors independently associated with unfavorable outcomes.


Elderly patients with pulmonary TB are more likely to present with negative sputum smears, cavity-negative lesions, lower lung field involvement and pleural effusion on chest radiographs. The prognosis is poor for the elderly pulmonary TB patients with lower body weight, coexisting medical diseases, and extensive radiographic disease.

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