Diagnostic and Therapeutic Problems of Pulmonary Tuberculosis in Elderly Patients

J Korean Med Sci. 2005 Oct;20(5):784-9. doi: 10.3346/jkms.2005.20.5.784.


To identify differences in the clinical, radiologic, and microbiologic features of pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) in the young (<64 yr) and elderly (> or =65 yr), we performed a retrospective analysis of the medical charts and chest radiographs of 207 young and 119 elderly pulmonary TB patients. Hemoptysis and a febrile sense were more frequent in the young, whereas weakness, dyspnea, anorexia, and mental change were more frequent in the elderly. Elderly patients showed higher frequencies of cardiovascular and chronic lung diseases, whereas the young showed a higher proportion of underlying liver disease. In addition, chest radiography showed a significantly higher frequency of mid or lower lung involvement by TB lesions in the elderly (10.6% vs. 22.7%, p<0.05). Lesions were frequently misdiagnosed as pneumonia or lung cancer in the elderly. However, there was no difference between these two groups in terms of sputum acid-fast bacilli positivity. The elderly showed a higher frequency of adverse drug reactions (18.5% vs. 40.7%, p<0.05), and higher TB-related mortality (1.3% vs. 11.1%, p<0.05). In conclusion this study showed that young and elderly pulmonary TB patients have similar microbiologic features; however, the elderly showed higher frequencies of atypical clinical and radiologic presentations, adverse drug reactions, and higher TB-related mortality.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Korea / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / drug therapy*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / mortality


  • Antitubercular Agents