Tuberculous pleural effusion: diagnosis & management

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Background: Tuberculosis (TB) is the world's leading cause of death from infectious disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognized 6.3 million new TB cases in 2017, 16% corresponding to extrapulmonary forms; pleural tuberculosis (PT) is the most common extrapulmonary form in adults. PT diagnosis is often challenging because the scarcity of bacilli in pleural fluid (PF), sometimes requiring invasive procedures to obtain pleural tissue for histological, microbiological or molecular examination. In regions of medium and high disease prevalence, adenosine deaminase (ADA), interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) and interleukin 27 (IL-27) dosages are useful to establish presumptive diagnosis in patients with compatible clinical/radiological picture who present with lymphocytic pleural effusion. PT treatment is similar to the pulmonary TB treatment regimen recommended by WHO. Area covered: In this update, we present a PT review, including epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical features, diagnosis, and therapy. Expert opinion: There is no PF test alone accurate for PT diagnosis, despite the evolution in clinical laboratory. ADA, IFN-gamma and IL-27 are valuable laboratory biomarkers; however, IFN-gamma and IL-27 are quite expensive. Molecular tests present low sensitivity in PF, being useful for diagnostic confirmation. Multidrug therapy remains the PT treatment choice. Advancing research in immunotherapy may bring benefits to PT patients.
Biomarkers, management, mycobacterium tuberculosis, pleural fluid, pleural tuberculosis, treatment
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