Pleural Tuberculosis

Clin Chest Med. 2021 Dec;42(4):649-666. doi: 10.1016/j.ccm.2021.08.002.


Pleural tuberculosis (TB) is common and often follows a benign course but may result in serious long-term morbidity. Diagnosis is challenging because of the paucibacillary nature of the condition. Advances in Mycobacterium culture media and PCR-based techniques have increased the yield from mycobacteriologic tests. Surrogate biomarkers perform well in diagnostic accuracy studies but must be interpreted in the context of the pretest probability in the individual patient. Confirming the diagnosis often requires biopsy, which may be acquired through thoracoscopy or image-guided closed pleural biopsy. Treatment is standard anti-TB therapy, with optional drainage and intrapleural fibrinolytics or surgery in complicated cases.

Keywords: Biomarkers; Empyema; Pleural effusion; Pleuritis; Tuberculosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Humans
  • Pleural Effusion* / diagnosis
  • Pleural Effusion* / etiology
  • Pleural Effusion* / therapy
  • Thoracoscopy
  • Thrombolytic Therapy
  • Tuberculosis, Pleural* / diagnosis
  • Tuberculosis, Pleural* / therapy