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Yield of Two Consecutive Sputum Specimens for the Effective Diagnosis of Pulmonary Tuberculosis
Published: Tuesday, July 02, 2013
Author: Mohammad R. Islam et al.

by Mohammad R. Islam, Razia Khatun, Mohammad Khaja Mafij Uddin, Md. Siddiqur Rahman Khan, Md. Toufiq Rahman, Tahmeed Ahmed, Sayera Banu


From long instances, it is debatable whether three sputum specimens are required for the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) or TB can be diagnosed effectively using two consecutive sputum specimens. This study was set out to evaluate the significance of examining multiple sputum specimens in diagnosis of TB.


We retrospectively reviewed the acid-fast bacillus (AFB) smear and culture results of three consecutive days’ sputum specimens from 413 confirmed TB patients which were detected as part of a larger active case finding study in Dhaka Central Jail, the largest correctional facility in Bangladesh.


AFB was detected from 81% (n?=?334) patients, of which 89% (n?=?297) were diagnosed from the first and additional 9% (n?=?30) were from the second sputum specimen. M. tuberculosis growth was observed for 406 patients and 85% (n?=?343) were obtained from the first sputum and additional 10% (n?=?42) were from the second one. The third specimen didn’t show significant additional diagnostic value for the detection of AFB by microscopy or growth of the M. tuberculosis.


We concluded from our study results that examining two consecutive sputum specimens is sufficient enough for the effective diagnosis of TB. It can also decrease the laboratory workload and hence improve the quality of work in settings with high TB burden like Bangladesh.