Setting: Ivanovo Oblast, Russian Federation, 300 km north-east of Moscow, where a pilot DOTS TB control programme was implemented in October 1995.
Objective: To determine the frequency of TB recurrence among MDR (multidrug-resistant) patients who achieved treatment 'success' on standard short-course chemotherapy.
Methods: All patients with MDR tuberculosis, defined as resistance to at least isoniazid and rifampicin, who were declared 'cured' or 'treatment completed', were identified using the district register and traced whenever possible. Eligible patients underwent medical examination and, if necessary, chest radiography, sputum smear examination, culture and susceptibility testing. If the patient had died, the relatives were interviewed to try to determine the reasons for death.
Results: Of 18 patients eligible for analysis, five (27.8%) were documented to have recurrence (two of seven patients resistant to HRSE, one of five patients resistant to HRS and two of six patients resistant to HR). Patients receiving the Category I regimen were more likely to relapse than those receiving the Category II regimen (40% vs. 12.5%). The median time to relapse was 8 months; 2.46 recurrences were observed in 100 person-months (3.17 in category I and 1.3 in Category II patients).
Conclusions: The frequency of TB recurrence among MDR-TB patients declared 'cured' after short-course chemotherapy is high. Improvements in treatment success, after removal of programme-related pitfalls in the treatment delivery process, must incorporate methods for early detection of MDR, along with adequate treatment regimens including second-line drugs. Culture-based bacteriological confirmation at the end of treatment is recommended.