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Lung India. 2020 Jan-Feb;37(1):24-29. doi: 10.4103/lungindia.lungindia_304_19.

Comparison of tuberculin skin test and QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube test in Bacillus Calmette-Guerin-vaccinated children.

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Pediatric Tuberculosis Clinic, B. J. Wadia Hospital for Children, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.



The aim of this study is to determine the concordance between QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube (QFT-GIT) and tuberculin skin test (TST) in children vaccinated with Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG).


This cross-sectional study was done at a pediatric tertiary care center in 33 BCG-vaccinated children aged 6 months-15 years suspected of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection or in contact with a patient with open tuberculosis (TB). All patients were tested for TST with purified protein derivative-S 5 tuberculin units and QFT-GIT assays. Concordance was evaluated between TST and QFT assay by kappa coefficient (k). Agreement between the tests was classified into categories: poor if k < 0.20, fair (k = 0.21-0.40), moderate (k = 0.41-0.60), good (k = 0.61-0.80), and very good (k = 0.81-1.00).


Both the TST and QFT assay were positive in 13 and negative in eight children, respectively, resulting in an agreement of 63% (κ = 0.31). Eight children were <4 years of age of which only one patient had a positive TST and QFT-GIT, and TST and QFT-GIT were negative in two patients resulting in an agreement of 37.5% (κ = 0.063). Among children 4 years of age and older, 12 patients had a positive TST and QFT-GIT and 6 patients had a negative TST and QFT-GIT resulting in an agreement of 72% (κ = 0.41). Among 12 children who had been in contact with an adult having open TB, both the TST and QFT-GIT were positive in 6 patients and negative in two patients, respectively, resulting in an agreement of 66% (κ = 0.41). TST specificity was only 29.6% with a positive predictive value of 42.4% as compared to QFT-GIT. Among children <4 years of age, TST specificity was only 28.6% with a positive predictive rate of 16.7%, and among children >4 years of age, TST specificity was 50% with a positive predictive value of 66.7%. In patients with contact with a patient having TB, TST specificity was 33.3%. Considering TST of 15 mm and above as positive, TST specificity increased to 63.2% and a positive predictive value was 56.3%.


The concordance of TST and QFT-GIT is low in children with previous BCG vaccination and especially in children <4 years of age. QFT-GIT may help to rule out false-positive TST.


Children; Mantoux test; QuantiFERON; tuberculin skin test

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