Multidrug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis: a review

Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2008 Dec;21(6):587-95. doi: 10.1097/QCO.0b013e328319bce6.


Purpose of review: The spread of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) is a major medical and public health concern for the world. These two forms of highly drug-resistant TB threaten to make TB into an untreatable and highly fatal disease, particularly in resource-poor countries with a high prevalence of AIDS. The focus of this review is to highlight the current extent of the problem.

Recent findings: There is a great variability in clinical outcomes for MDR-TB, in part due to differences in the definitions of outcome measures and retrospective nature of the studies. Outcomes for XDR-TB are uniformly worse than those for MDR-TB.

Summary: A multifaceted approach is needed to prevent a more widespread epidemic of MDR-TB and XDR-TB. Rapid diagnostic assays to detect highly drug-resistant TB are essential in preventing delays in treatment of MDR-TB and XDR-TB and curbing their spread. Development of new drugs to effectively treat all forms of TB in a shorter period of time is urgently needed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Communicable Disease Control / methods
  • Extensively Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis / diagnosis
  • Extensively Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis / epidemiology
  • Extensively Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis / mortality
  • Extensively Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis / prevention & control
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant / diagnosis
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant / epidemiology*
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant / mortality
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant / prevention & control


  • Antitubercular Agents