Background: There has been a steady increase in referrals of patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) who are human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) negative. Between 1986 and 1999, 40 patients were admitted to the authors' institution, eight of whom were admitted between January and June 1999. The management of such individuals is difficult. Although they are a clinically and epidemiologically important group of patients, few reports detail their management.
Objectives: To review the demographics, clinical management and long term outcome of 40 non-HIV-infected individuals with MDR-TB referred to the only specialized TB inpatient service in Ontario.
Patients and methods: Clinical hospital records were reviewed.
Results: Twenty-one men and 19 women (mean age 41+/-18 years) were admitted between January 1986 and June 1999 with MDR-TB and negative serology for HIV. Thirty-eight patients (95%) were born outside of Canada. Twenty-six patients (65%) had a history of previous TB. All were symptomatic with productive cough and positive sputum smears for acid-fast bacilli. There was a delay of 4.5 months between the initial diagnosis of TB and the recognition of the presence of MDR-TB. Four patients (10%) had TB resistant to isoniazid and rifampin only. Over 50% of patients had TB with additional resistance to streptomycin, and over 40% had additional resistance to ethambutol. Coexisting resistance was also found in significant numbers for pyrazinamide, ethionamide, para-aminosalicylic acid and cycloserine. Bacteriological conversion was achieved in 34 patients (85%). Six patients underwent surgical resection for localized lung disease. Twenty-four patients completed treatment and have remained free of disease for 33+/-25 months. All five patients (12%) who died had longstanding disease before their referral.
Conclusions: MDR-TB is most frequently seen among immigrants with a previous history of TB, especially if they come from countries in which TB is highly prevalent. Outcome can be improved by a more timely recognition of MDR-TB.