In India, under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP), the percentage of smear-positive re-treatment cases is high. The causes of re-treatment include relapse of the disease after successful completion of treatment, treatment failure, and default in treatment. RNTCP does not follow up the patients for any period of time after successful completion of treatment to determine whether they relapse. Given the high cost of treatment for each patient under RNTCP and the potential for spread of disease from these patients, it is crucial for the success of the program and control of the disease in the country to find out more about the reasons behind this. T0 o conduct a systematic review of literature and determine evidence regarding recurrence of TB after its successful treatment with standard short course chemotherapy under DOTS guidelines. T0 en databases were searched including Medline, Cochrane database, Embase and others and reference lists of articles. 255 papers resulted from these searches. Seven studies were finally included in the review after applying the inclusion, exclusion and quality assessment criteria. R0 elapse rate is high (almost 10%) in India which is higher than international studies. Majority of relapse cases present soon after completion of treatment (first six months). Risk factors for relapse included drug irregularity, initial drug resistance, smoking and alcoholism Sex and weight were not risk factors in India. The outcome of relapse cases put on treatment is positive but less effective than new cases. There are sound arguments and sketchy evidence that DOTS Category 2 treatment may not be adequate for retreatment patients.
Keywords: Directly observed therapy; India; Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program; relapse; systematic review.