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Br J Radiol. 2012 Jun;85(1014):e130-9. doi: 10.1259/bjr/70704099. Epub 2011 Oct 5.

Chest radiographic findings of pulmonary tuberculosis in severely immunocompromised patients with the human immunodeficiency virus.

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Department of Radiology, Mulago National Referral Hospital, Kampala, Uganda.



We describe chest radiograph (CXR) findings in a population with a high prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and tuberculosis (TB) in order to identify radiological features associated with TB; to compare CXR features between HIV-seronegative and HIV-seropositive patients with TB; and to correlate CXR findings with CD4 T-cell count.


Consecutive adult patients admitted to a national referral hospital with a cough of duration of 2 weeks or longer underwent diagnostic evaluation for TB and other pneumonias, including sputum examination and mycobacterial culture, bronchoscopy and CXR. Two radiologists blindly reviewed CXRs using a standardised interpretation form.


Smear or culture-positive TB was diagnosed in 214 of 403 (53%) patients. Median CD4+ T-cell count was 50 cells mm(-3) [interquartile range (IQR) 14-150]. TB patients were less likely than non-TB patients to have a normal CXR (12% vs 20%, p = 0.04), and more likely than non-TB patients to have a diffuse pattern of opacities (75% vs 60%, p = 0.003), reticulonodular opacities (45% vs 12%, p < 0.001), nodules (14% vs 6%, p = 0.008) or cavities (18% vs 7%, p = 0.001). HIV-seronegative TB patients more often had consolidation (70% vs 42%, p = 0.007) and cavities (48% vs 13%, p < 0.001) than HIV-seropositive TB patients. TB patients with a CD4+ T-cell count of ≤ 50 cells mm(-3) less often had consolidation (33% vs 54%, p = 0.006) and more often had hilar lymphadenopathy (30% vs 16%, p = 0.03) compared with patients with CD4 51-200 cells mm(-3).


Although different CXR patterns can be seen in TB and non-TB pneumonias there is considerable overlap in features, especially among HIV-seropositive and severely immunosuppressed patients. Providing clinical and immunological information to the radiologist might improve the accuracy of radiographic diagnosis of TB.

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