Criteria used for the diagnosis of childhood tuberculosis at primary health care level in a high-burden, urban setting
BACKGROUND: Children contribute a significant proportion of the total tuberculosis (TB) case load in high-burden settings and present a major diagnostic challenge. OBJECTIVE: To document the criteria used at primary health care level to diagnose childhood TB in a high-burden, urban setting. METHODS: This retrospective descriptive study was conducted at two primary health care clinics in Cape Town, South Africa. Information on all children (<15 years of age) entered into the TB register from January 2002 through December 2003 was retrieved for analysis. RESULTS: During the study period, 1277 cases of TB were entered into the TB register, of which 268 (21.0%) were children. Information on 256 (95.5%) children was available for analysis. The majority (206, 80.5%) had intrathoracic TB, of whom 107 (51.5%) had uncomplicated lymph node disease, 79 (38.3%) complicated lymph node disease, 8 (3.9%) a pleural effusion and 12 (5.8%) adult-type cavitating disease. According to modified WHO criteria, the diagnosis of TB was confirmed in 27 (10.5%), probable in 193 (75.4%) and suspect in 36 (14.1%). DISCUSSION: The diagnostic criteria used at primary health care level demonstrated good agreement with current guidelines, but depended heavily on chest radiograph interpretation. © 2005 The Union.