Recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of latent and active tuberculosis in inflammatory joint diseases for candidates for therapy with tumor necrosis factor alpha inhibitors--March 2008 update

Rev Port Pneumol. Mar-Apr 2008;14(2):271-83.


The Portuguese Society of Rheumatology and the Portuguese Society of Pulmonology have updated the guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) and active tuberculosis (ATB) in patients with inflammatory joint diseases (IJD) that are candidates to therapy with tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) antagonists. In order to reduce the risk of tuberculosis (TB) reactivation and the incidence of new infections, TB screening is recommended to be done as soon as possible, ideally at the moment of IJD diagnosis, and patient assessment repeated before starting anti-TNFalpha therapy. Treatment for ATB and LTBI must be done under the care of a TB specialist. When TB treatment is indicated, it should be completed prior to starting anti-TNFalpha therapy. If the IJD activity justifies the need for immediate treatment, anti-TNFalpha therapy can be started two months after antituberculous therapy has been initiated, in the case of ATB, and one month after in the case of LTBI; healed lesions require the exclusion of ATB. In cases of suspected active lesions, ATB should be excluded/confirmed and adequate therapy initiated. Tuberculin skin test, with two units of RT23, should be performed in all patients. If the duration is < 5 mm, the test should be repeated within 1 to 2 weeks, on the opposite forearm, and will be considered negative only if the result is again < 5 mm. Positive TST implicates LTBI treatment, unless previous proper treatment was provided. If TST is performed in immunossuppressed IJD patients, LTBI treatment should be offered to the patient before starting anti-TNFalpha therapy, even in the presence of a negative test, after risk/benefit assessment.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis / complications*
  • Arthritis / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / complications
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / therapy*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha