Modern laboratory diagnosis of tuberculosis

Lancet Infect Dis. 2003 Mar;3(3):141-7. doi: 10.1016/s1473-3099(03)00544-9.


One-third of the global population is believed to be infected with bacteria of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, the causative agent of tuberculosis. More than 8 million new cases of tuberculosis occur annually leading to 2 million deaths. Mortality is particularly high in those coinfected with HIV and where the bacteria are multiple-drug-resistant strains--ie, strains resistant to at least isoniazid and rifampicin. Early diagnosis of tuberculosis and drug resistance improves survival and by identifying infectious cases promotes contact tracing, implementation of institutional cross-infection procedures, and other public-health actions. This review addresses significant advances made in the diagnosis of infection, clinical disease, and drug resistance over the past decade. It proposes operational criteria for a modern diagnostic service in the UK (as a model of a low-incidence country) and explores some of the economic issues surrounding the use of these techniques.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Laboratories / standards
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / classification
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / isolation & purification
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / physiology
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis / drug therapy
  • United Kingdom


  • Antitubercular Agents