Outpatient management of tuberculosis

Am Fam Physician. 1996 Apr;53(5):1579-94.


All patients with a positive reaction to the tuberculin skin test should be evaluated for weight loss, night sweats, fever, chronic cough and other signs of active tuberculosis. Chest radiographs should also be obtained in these patients. All converters receiving isoniazid should be examined monthly for signs of hepatitis and neurotoxicity. Liver function tests should be obtained at initiation of isoniazid therapy and again during the first two to four months in patients age 35 or older or with a history of alcoholism, liver disease or intravenous drug use. All cases of active tuberculosis should be reported to the local public health department. Most patients with active tuberculosis should receive isoniazid, rifampin, ethambutol and pyrazinamide daily for two weeks, followed by directly observed administration twice weekly for six additional weeks. If sputum cultures show no resistance after two months of therapy, pyrazinamide and ethambutol may be discontinued, with isoniazid and rifampin taken for an additional 16 weeks. Patients with human immunodeficiency virus infection or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome should receive the initial treatment for at least nine to 12 months, and isoniazid and rifampin for at least six months after culture conversion has occurred.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Ambulatory Care*
  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Interactions
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Ethambutol / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Isoniazid / therapeutic use
  • Mass Screening
  • Population Surveillance
  • Pyrazinamide / therapeutic use
  • Rifampin / therapeutic use
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Streptomycin / therapeutic use
  • Tuberculin Test / standards
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / drug therapy*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / prevention & control
  • United States


  • Antitubercular Agents
  • Pyrazinamide
  • Ethambutol
  • Isoniazid
  • Rifampin
  • Streptomycin