Tuberculosis diagnosed at death in the United States

Chest. 1991 Sep;100(3):678-81. doi: 10.1378/chest.100.3.678.


From 1985 through 1988, 5.1 percent of TB cases reported in the United States were diagnosed at death. Differences in the proportions diagnosed at death by race/ethnicity, sex, and place of birth (United States vs foreign-born) were relatively small. The proportion of cases diagnosed at death increased with age, from 0.7 percent in patients less than 5 years old to 18.6 percent among patients 85 years and older. Only 26.0 percent of cases diagnosed alive were among those 65 years and older, but 60.3 percent of those diagnosed at death were in this age group. Eighteen percent of cases with miliary, meningeal and peritoneal TB were diagnosed at death, compared with 4.8 percent among those with pulmonary TB. These data indicate that TB too often remains unrecognized and that, to prevent continuing deaths from this curable disease, a high index of suspicion of TB remains important, particularly among the elderly and among persons with extrapulmonary sites of disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Death
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis / mortality
  • United States / epidemiology