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Infectious Diseases - Public Health and Epidemiology - Respiratory Medicine - Virology

Incremental Yield of Serial Sputum Cultures for Diagnosis of Tuberculosis among HIV Infected Smear Negative Pulmonary TB Suspects in Kampala, Uganda
Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Author: Willy Ssengooba et al.

by Willy Ssengooba, Noah Kiwanuka, David P. Kateete, Achilles Katamba, Moses L. Joloba


Sputum culture is the gold standard for diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB). Although mostly used for research, culture is recommended by the World Health Organization for TB diagnosis among HIV infected smear negative PTB suspects. Even then, the number of sputum samples required remains unspecified. Here, we determined the Incremental Yield (IY) and number of samples required to diagnose an additional PTB case upon second and third serial sputum culture.


This was a cross sectional study done between January and March 2011. Serial sputum samples were provided by participants within two days and cultured using Lowenstein Jensen (LJ) and Mycobacteria Growth Indicator Tube (MGIT) methods. A PTB case was defined as a positive culture on either one or both methods. The IY from the second and third serial cultures was determined and the reciprocal of the product of the fractions of IY provided the number of samples required for an additional PTB case. Of the 170 smear negative PTB suspects, 62 (36.5%) met the case definition. The IY of the second sample culture was 12.7%, 23.6% and 12.6% and for the third sample culture was 6.8%, 7.5% and 7.3% with LJ, MGIT and LJ or MGIT, respectively. The number of samples required for an additional PTB case and 95% CI upon the second sample culture were 29.9 (16.6, 156.5), 11.3 (7.6, 21.9) and 20.8 (12.5, 62.7); while for the third sample culture were 55.6 (26.4, 500.4), 35.7 (19.0, 313.8) and 36.1 (19.1, 330.9) by LJ, MGIT and LJ or MGIT respectively.


Among HIV infected smear negative PTB suspects in Kampala, 93% of PTB cases are diagnosed upon the second serial sputum culture. The number of cultures needed to diagnose an additional PTB case, ranges from 11–30 and 35–56 by the second and third sputum samples, respectively.