Rationale: To assess feasibility and yield of diagnostic procedures after active case finding for tuberculosis with radiologic screening at the three main entry points for asylum seekers to Switzerland.
Method: Prospective multicenter study on the value of symptoms, spontaneous and induced sputum, and bronchoscopy for the confirmation of tuberculosis in radiologically selected cases.
Results: Among 101 asylum seekers examined, spontaneous sputum was collected "on the spot" in 83 and yielded 7 (54%) of 13 smear-positive and 13 (39%) of 33 culture-positive cases. Morning sputum, collected in 84, yielded 8 (62%) and 16 (49%), and the two spontaneous sputa combined 9 (69%) and 20 (61%), respectively. Two additional induced sputa, collected in 91 persons, yielded no additional smear-positive, but yielded seven culture-positive cases (yield, 82%). Bronchoscopy, performed in 87 of 92 sputum smear-negative cases, yielded four additional smear-positive and six culture-positive cases. Culture confirmation was independently and significantly predicted by obtaining a specimen using bronchoscopy (adjusted odds ratio, 11.0; 95% confidence interval, 1.9-62) and a prior decision to treat (adjusted odds ratio, 3.0; confidence interval, 1.1-8.1).
Conclusion: Radiographic anomalies compatible with tuberculosis found during screening are a poor guide to initiation of treatment. Respiratory and systemic symptoms correlated weakly with culture confirmation of tuberculosis. All radiologically selected cases must be examined with on-the-spot and early-morning sputum, regardless of symptoms. If both specimens are smear negative, the yield is increased by bronchoscopy and, to a lesser extent, by two samples of induced sputum. The examination of any single specimen has a low yield of 36 to 63% and is insufficient to exclude active tuberculosis.