Diagnostic accuracy of chest radiography in detecting mediastinal lymphadenopathy in suspected pulmonary tuberculosis

  • Swingler G
  • Du Toit G
  • Andronikou S
 et al. 
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OBJECTIVE: To estimate the diagnostic accuracy of chest radiography in the detection of chest lymphadenopathy in children with clinically suspected pulmonary tuberculosis.


DESIGN: Prospective cross sectional study.

SETTING: A short stay ward in a children's hospital in South Africa.

PATIENTS: Consecutive children under 14 years of age admitted with suspected pulmonary tuberculosis.

DIAGNOSTIC TEST: Antero-posterior and/or lateral chest x rays interpreted independently and blind to the reference standard by three primary care clinicians and three paediatricians, all with a special interest in tuberculosis. Reference standard: Spiral chest computed tomography (CT) with contrast injection.

RESULTS: One hundred children (median age 21.5 months) were enrolled. Lymphadenopathy was present in 46 of 100 reference CT scans and judged to be present in 47.1% of x ray assessments. Overall sensitivity was 67% and specificity 59%. Primary care clinicians were more sensitive (71.5% v 63.3%, p = 0.047) and less specific (49.8% v 68.9%, p
CONCLUSIONS: Detection of mediastinal lymphadenopathy on chest x ray to diagnose pulmonary tuberculosis in children must be interpreted with caution. Diagnostic accuracy might be improved by refining radiological criteria for lymphadenopathy.

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