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Radiology. 1983 Aug;148(2):357-62.

Adult-onset pulmonary tuberculosis.


Medical records and radiographs of 103 adults with primary tuberculosis were reviewed. The shift toward delayed presentation appears to be related to decreasing childhood exposure and an increasing number of compromised hosts. Compared with classic "childhood" tuberculosis, there is a higher incidence of lower-lobe disease, but infiltrates also commonly involve the upper lobe or upper segments of the lower lobe. Adenopathy, cavitation, and tuberculoma are rare. If a pleural effusion is present and tuberculosis is suspected, pleural biopsy is mandatory. Adult respiratory distress syndrome can be a complication, particularly in miliary tuberculosis, and disseminated intravascular coagulopathy usually follows. A normal chest radiograph or clinical improvement of the patient with bed rest and penicillin does not exclude tuberculosis. Increased awareness of adult-onset tuberculosis on the part of radiologists could lead to a more rapid diagnosis and successful management.

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