Objective: Tuberculosis (TB) in patients with or without advanced HIV infection may present as smear-negative, extrapulmonary and/or disseminated forms. We studied the role of pericardial and abdominal ultrasound examinations in the determination of extrapulmonary or disseminated TB.
Methods: A prospective descriptive and analytic cross-sectional study design was used to determine the ultrasound findings of value in patients with subsequently proven TB. Ultrasound examinations were performed on 300 patients admitted to G F Jooste Hospital with suspected extrapulmonary or disseminated TB.
Outcome measures: The presence of hepatomegaly, splenomegaly, lymphadenopathy (location, size and appearance), ascites, pleural effusions, pericardial effusions and/or splenic micro-abscesses was noted. Clinical findings, microbiological and serological data were also recorded, correlated and analysed.
Results: Complete data sets were available for 267 patients; 91.0% were HIV positive, and 70.0% had World Health Organization clinical stage 4 disease. Active TB (determined by smear or culture) was present in 170 cases (63.7%). Ultrasonically visible abdominal lymphadenopathy over 1 cm in minimum diameter correlated with active TB in 55.3% of cases (odds ratio (OR) 2.6, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.5 - 4.6, p = 0.0002). Ultrasonographically detected pericardial effusions (OR 2.8, 95% CI 1.6 - 5.0, p < 0.0001), ascites (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.2 - 4.2, p = 0.005) and splenic lesions (OR 1.9, 95% CI 1.0 - 3.5, p = 0.024) also predicted active TB.
Conclusion: Pericardial and abdominal ultrasound examinations are valuable supplementary investigations in the diagnosis of suspected extrapulmonary or disseminated TB.