Objective: To evaluate the diagnostic yield and time to diagnosis of fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) vs. routine respiratory specimens collected from children with a palpable peripheral lymph node mass and symptoms suspicious of tuberculosis (TB).
Design: We performed a retrospective review of laboratory records at Tygerberg Hospital over a 4-year period from January 2003 to December 2006. All children (aged <13 years) in whom an FNAB and other mycobacterial specimens were collected as part of their diagnostic workup were included.
Results: In 95 children, the following specimens were collected: FNAB (n = 95), gastric aspirates (n = 142), other respiratory specimens (n = 36), non-respiratory specimens (n = 26). Mycobacterial disease was diagnosed in 70 (73.7%) patients. Children without respiratory specimens (n = 6) and/or with Mycobacterium bovis bacille Calmette-Guérin disease (n = 15) were excluded from comparative analysis. In the remainder, FNAB was positive in 45/74 (60.8%) vs. any respiratory specimen in 29/74 (39.2%, P < 0.001). The mean time to bacteriological diagnosis with FNAB was 7.1 days (95%CI 4.2-10.1) compared to 22.5 days (95%CI 15.8-29.1) for any respiratory specimen.
Conclusion: FNAB is a simple, rapid and effective modality for achieving confirmation of mycobacterial disease in paediatric TB suspects with a palpable peripheral lymph node mass.