Objective: Miliary tuberculosis is a life-threatening disease caused by the haematogenous spread of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. We evaluated the clinical manifestations of 34 patients with miliary tuberculosis.
Design: A retrospective case review.
Results: The diagnosis of miliary tuberculosis was based on the identification of miliary nodules on chest radiography and one of the three following criteria: 1) acid-fast bacilli smear and/or culture positive in clinical specimens (22/34), 2) histopathological identification of TB granuloma (6/34), and 3) radiological and clinical improvement after anti-tuberculosis treatment (6/34). The median age (+/-SD) of the patients was 42.7 +/- 21.6 years, with two peaks, in the age group 20-30 and in those over 60. There were 16 underlying diseases in 14 patients, of which liver cirrhosis was the most common. The drug sensitivity pattern was available for 17 isolates of M. tuberculosis: 14 were sensitive, while the other three were resistant to at least one anti-tuberculosis drug. Eight patients developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), five of whom died during intensive care. Platelet count, serum albumin and liver enzyme level at the time of admission were significant factors both for ARDS development and for survival.
Conclusion: ARDS caused by miliary TB is associated with a high fatality rate; scope remains for improvement in its management.