The treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in Turkey

N Engl J Med. 2001 Jul 19;345(3):170-4. doi: 10.1056/NEJM200107193450303.


Background: We evaluated the results of treatment in 158 consecutive patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis who were treated at our center in Istanbul.

Methods: A total of 21 female patients and 137 male patients (age range, 15 to 68 years) received treatment for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis between March 1992 and October 1999. The patients had previously received a mean of 5.7 antituberculosis drugs and were infected with organisms that were resistant to a mean of 4.4 drugs. All patients were infected with organisms that were resistant to both isoniazid and rifampicin. The regimens we used were selected on the basis of previous treatment protocols and the results of susceptibility tests. All patients received at least three drugs thought to be active; the treatment was continued for at least 18 months after the conversion to a negative culture and for at least 24 months in the absence of first-line drugs.

Results: The mean number of drugs given during the study was 5.5 (range, 3 to 9). Surgical resection was performed in 36 patients. Adverse effects led to discontinuation of one or more drugs in 62 patients (39 percent). Cultures became negative in 150 patients (95 percent) after a mean of 1.9 months (range, 1 to 9). The overall success rate of treatment was 77 percent, with cures in 78 patients (49 percent) and probable cures in 43 (27 percent). Treatment failed in 13 patients (8 percent). Seven patients died (4 percent). Seventeen patients (11 percent) did not complete the treatment regimen. The patients with unsuccessful outcomes were older than those with successful outcomes (mean age, 42 years vs. 36 years; P=0.008), had received a larger number of drugs previously (median, six vs. five; P=0.048), were more likely to have been treated previously with ofloxacin (57 percent vs. 30 percent, P=0.004), and were less likely to have received ofloxacin as part of the study protocol (65 percent vs. 84 percent, P=0.018). Thirty-eight percent of the patients with unsuccessful outcomes were infected with organisms that were resistant to more than five drugs. In a step-down logistic-regression analysis, a successful outcome was independently associated with a younger age (P=0.013) and the absence of previous treatment with ofloxacin (P=0.005).

Conclusions: Most patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis can be cured with the use of appropriate, intensive treatment regimens.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antitubercular Agents / adverse effects
  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isoniazid / therapeutic use
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ofloxacin / therapeutic use
  • Rifampin / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant / drug therapy*
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant / surgery
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / drug therapy*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / surgery
  • Turkey


  • Antitubercular Agents
  • Ofloxacin
  • Isoniazid
  • Rifampin