Risk of pulmonary tuberculosis in children with congenital heart disease

Van der Merwe P.-L. ; Kalis N. ; Schaaf H.S. ; Nel E.H. ; Gie R.P. (1995)


Children with low-flow congenital heart lesions are reported to have an increased incidence of pulmonary tuberculosis. The aim of this study was to investigate if children with congenital heart disease have an increased incidence of pulmonary tuberculosis and to determine if patients with certain heart conditions are more susceptible to pulmonary tuberculosis than others. This retrospective study over a 6-year period showed that pulmonary tuberculosis was 2.5 fold more common in children with congenital heart disease than in normal children from the same community. Children with congenital pulmonary stenosis had a prevalence equal to those with acyanotic (ventricular and atrial septal defects) and cyanotic (transposition of the great arteries) high flow heart lesions, whereas there were no cases of tuberculosis in children with low-flow cyanotic heart lesions such as tetralogy of Fallot. Cardiac surgery had to be postponed as a result of pulmonary tuberculosis in 7.2% of all patients in whom it was required. Over the 6-year period of the study, cardiac surgery had to be delayed in 60% of cases with pulmonary tuberculosis and congenital heart lesions so antituberculosis therapy could be completed. Physicians treating children with congenital heart lesions should maintain a high index of suspicion for the development of pulmonary tuberculosis, especially in those with acyanotic and cyanotic high flow lesions and pulmonary stenosis.

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