Epidemiology of extrapulmonary tuberculosis in the United States, 1993-2006

Clin Infect Dis. 2009 Nov 1;49(9):1350-7. doi: 10.1086/605559.


Background: Almost one-fifth of United States tuberculosis cases are extrapulmonary; unexplained slower annual case count decreases have occurred in extrapulmonary tuberculosis (EPTB), compared with annual case count decreases in pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) cases. We describe the epidemiology of EPTB by means of US national tuberculosis surveillance data.

Methods: US tuberculosis cases reported from 1993 to 2006 were classified as either EPTB or PTB. EPTB encompassed lymphatic, pleural, bone and/or joint, genitourinary, meningeal, peritoneal, and unclassified EPTB cases. We excluded cases with concurrent extrapulmonary-pulmonary tuberculosis and cases of disseminated (miliary) tuberculosis. Demographic characteristics, drug susceptibility test results, and risk factors, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status, were compared for EPTB and PTB cases.

Results: Among 253,299 cases, 73.6% were PTB and 18.7% were EPTB, including lymphatic (40.4%), pleural (19.8%), bone and/or joint (11.3%), genitourinary (6.5%), meningeal (5.4%), peritoneal (4.9%), and unclassified EPTB (11.8%) cases. Compared with PTB, EPTB was associated with female sex (odds ratio [OR], 1.7; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.7-1.8) and foreign birth (OR, 1.5; CI, 1.5-1.6), almost equally associated with HIV status (OR, 1.1; CI, 1.1-1.1), and negatively associated with multidrug resistance (OR, 0.6; CI, 0.5-0.6) and several tuberculosis risk factors, especially homelessness (OR, 0.3; CI, 0.3-0.3) and excess alcohol use (OR, 0.3; CI, 0.3-0.3). Slower annual decreases in EPTB case counts, compared with annual decreases in PTB case counts, from 1993 through 2006 have caused EPTB to increase from 15.7% of tuberculosis cases in 1993 to 21.0% in 2006.

Conclusions: EPTB epidemiology and risk factors differ from those of PTB, and the proportion of EPTB has increased from 1993 through 2006. Further study is needed to identify causes of the proportional increase in EPTB.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology*
  • Tuberculosis, Lymph Node / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis, Osteoarticular / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis, Pleural / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis, Urogenital / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult