Post-Tuberculosis Lung Disease: Clinical Review of an Under-Recognised Global Challenge

Respiration. 2021;100(8):751-763. doi: 10.1159/000512531. Epub 2021 Jan 5.


An estimated 58 million people have survived tuberculosis since 2000, yet many of them will suffer from post-tuberculosis lung disease (PTLD). PTLD results from a complex interplay between organism, host, and environmental factors and affects long-term respiratory health. PTLD is an overlapping spectrum of disorders that affects large and small airways (bronchiectasis and obstructive lung disease), lung parenchyma, pulmonary vasculature, and pleura and may be complicated by co-infection and haemoptysis. People affected by PTLD have shortened life expectancy and increased risk of recurrent tuberculosis, but predictors of long-term outcomes are not known. No data are available on PTLD in children and on impact throughout the life course. Risk-factors for PTLD include multiple episodes of tuberculosis, drug-resistant tuberculosis, delays in diagnosis, and possibly smoking. Due to a lack of controlled trials in this population, no evidence-based recommendations for the investigation and management of PTLD are currently available. Empirical expert opinion advocates pulmonary rehabilitation, smoking cessation, and vaccinations (pneumococcal and influenza). Exacerbations in PTLD remain both poorly understood and under-recognised. Among people with PTLD, the probability of tuberculosis recurrence must be balanced against other causes of symptom worsening. Unnecessary courses of repeated empiric anti-tuberculosis chemotherapy should be avoided. PTLD is an important contributor to the global burden of chronic lung disease. Advocacy is needed to increase recognition for PTLD and its associated economic, social, and psychological consequences and to better understand how PTLD sequelae could be mitigated. Research is urgently needed to inform policy to guide clinical decision-making and preventative strategies for PTLD.

Keywords: Aspergillosis; Bronchiectasis; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Haemoptysis; Post-tuberculosis lung disease; Restrictive lung disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aspergillosis / etiology
  • Chronic Disease*
  • Cost of Illness
  • Global Burden of Disease*
  • Hemoptysis / etiology
  • Humans
  • Lung / growth & development
  • Lung Diseases / etiology*
  • Lung Diseases / psychology
  • Mental Health
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors
  • Survivors
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / complications*