Clinical spectrum of tuberculous pleural effusion in children

Chih Yung Chiu, Jun Ho Wu, Kin Sun Wong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: The aim of this study was to describe the clinical characteristics and potentially diagnostic specimens of pediatric patients with tuberculous pleural effusion (TPE) to make a prompt diagnosis. Methods: Children who had TPE from September 1997 to December 2003 were retrospectively reviewed at a tertiary pediatric facility in northern Taiwan. Results: There were seven boys and six girls and their ages ranged from 10 to 17 years (average, 14.6 years). Tuberculosis contact history was identified in only six patients (46%). Fever (12/92%), cough (9/69%) and malaise (6/46%) were the most common symptoms. Normal leukocyte count was found in 12 patients (92%). Chest radiograph review showed unilateral pleural effusion in 12 patients (92%) but parenchymal involvement was found in nine patients (69%). Most of the pleural fluid analysis showed a lymphocytic exudative effusion (5/6). The acid-fast bacilli (AFB) stain of sputum, gastric washing, and pleural aspirate was positive in six of 11 (55%), two of seven (29%), and one of five (20%) patients, respectively. Culture of sputum, gastric washing, and pleural aspirate yielded Mycobacterium tuberculosis in four of 11 (36%), two of seven (29%), and two of five (40%) patients, respectively. A total of 6 to 9 months of multiple-drug therapy for tuberculosis was successful without sequale. Conclusions: Tuberculous pleural effusion usually presents as an acute illness and should always be considered in the differential diagnosis for older children and adolescents with pneumonia. A normal leukocyte count with a lymphocytic exudative effusion may provide a clue to the correct diagnosis of TPE. Diagnostic specimen of sputum seems more effective and sensitive in childhood TPE, especially those having pulmonary involvement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-362
Number of pages4
JournalPediatrics International
Issue number3
StatePublished - 06 2007


  • Children
  • Diagnostic specimens
  • Tuberculous pleural effusion


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