Diagnostic value of bronchoalveolar lavage in suspected pulmonary tuberculosis

Chest. 1988 Feb;93(2):329-32. doi: 10.1378/chest.93.2.329.


Of 222 patients suspected of having pulmonary tuberculosis (PT), studied during a one-year period, we performed fiberoptic bronchoscopy together with bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), bronchial washing and postbronchoscopy sputum smears and Löwenstein cultures in 20 patients. Bronchoalveolar lavage proved to be the most effective method leading to diagnosis in 17 of 20 cases. Diagnosis was obtained in 11 of 20 cases using bronchial washing and postbronchoscopy sputum. The results of this study suggest that bronchoscopy may be required in selected cases for the diagnosis of PT. However, it should be accompanied by BAL, bronchial washings and postbronchoscopy sputum smears. Indications for bronchoscopy as a diagnostic tool for PT may include: (a) patients suspected of having PT with negative smears and in whom treatment must be started due to clinical status; (b) suspicion of associated neoplasia; (c) selected patients with negative Löwenstein cultures; (d) lack of material being obtained by simpler methods.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / microbiology*
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Female
  • Fiber Optic Technology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / isolation & purification
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sputum / microbiology
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / microbiology