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versão impressa ISSN 1807-5932versão On-line ISSN 1980-5322


ANTONANGELO, Leila et al. Clinical and laboratory parameters in the differential diagnosis of pleural effusion secondary to tuberculosis or cancer. Clinics [online]. 2007, vol.62, n.5, pp.585-590. ISSN 1807-5932.

PURPOSE: To evaluate the clinical and laboratory characteristics of pleural effusions secondary to tuberculosis (TB) or cancer (CA). METHODS: A total of 326 patients with pleural effusion due to TB (n=182) or CA (n=144) were studied. The following parameters were analyzed: patient gender, age and pleural effusion characteristics (size, location, macroscopic fluid aspect, protein concentration, lactate dehydrogenase (DHL) and adenosine deaminase activity (ADA) and nucleated cell counts). RESULTS: Young male patients predominated in the tuberculosis group. The effusions were generally moderate in size and unilateral in both groups. Yellow-citrine fluid with higher protein (p < 0.001) levels predominated in effusions from the tuberculosis group (5.3 + 0.8 g/dL) when compared to the CA group (4.2 ± 1.0 g/dL), whereas DHL levels were more elevated in CA (1,177 ± 675 x 1,030 ± 788 IU; p = 0.003) than in TB. As expected, ADA activity was higher in the TB group (107.6 ± 44.2 x 30.6 ± 57.5 U/L; p < 0.001). Both types of effusions presented with high nucleated cell counts, which were more pronounced in the malignant group (p < 0.001). TB effusion was characterized by a larger percentage of leukocytes and lymphocytes (p < 0.001) and a smaller number of mesothelial cells (p = 0.005). Lymphocytes and macrophages were the predominant nucleated cell in neoplastic effusions. CONCLUSION: Our results demonstrate that in lymphocytic pleural exudate obtained from patients with clinical and radiological evidence of tuberculosis, protein and ADA were the parameters that better characterize these effusions. In the same way, when the clinical suspicion is malignancy, serous-hemorrhagic lymphocytic fluid should be submitted to oncotic cytology once this easy and inexpensive exam reaches a high diagnostic performance (@ 80%). In this context, we suggest thoracocentesis with fluid biochemical and cytological examination as the first diagnostic approach for these patients.

Palavras-chave : Pleural effusion; Neoplasm; Tuberculosis; Adenosine deaminase; Exudates.

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