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HIV-associated tuberculous lymphadenitis: the importance of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) as a complementary tool for the diagnosis of tuberculosis - a study of 104 patients

Linfadenite tuberculosa associada ao HIV: a importância da reação em cadeia de polimerase (PCR) como ferramenta complementar para o diagnóstico da tuberculose - estudo de 104 pacientes

Marcio Valle Cortez Cintia Mara Costa de Oliveira Rossicléia Lins Monte José Ribamar de Araújo Bruna Backsmann Braga Débora Zotteli dos Reis Luis Carlos de Lima Ferreira Milton Ozório Moraes Sinésio Talhari About the authors

BACKGROUND: Lymphadenitis is common in HIV-positive patients. Diagnosis of the infections associated with this condition is complex, particularly in the case of tuberculosis. Rapid and specific detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) is fundamental in ensuring adequate treatment. In addition, frequent causes of lymphadenitis such as those associated with lymphoma and histoplasmosis, among others, must be eliminated as possible causes. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the accuracy of polymerase chain reaction as a tool for the diagnosis of lymphadenitis resulting from M. tuberculosis. METHODS: In this study, a protocol was developed using the following procedures: direct microscopy using Ziehl-Neelsen staining, culture in Lowenstein-Jensen medium, histology and polymerase chain reaction. RESULTS: A total of 104 patients were included in the study. According to histopathology, 38 patients (36%) were found to have nonspecific chronic lymphadenitis, 27 (26%) had tuberculous lymphadenitis, 11 patients (10.5%) had lymphoma and 9 (8.7%) had histoplasmosis. When Lowenstein-Jensen culture was performed, positive tests for tuberculous lymphadenitis increased by 30%. With polymerase chain reaction, M. tuberculosis DNA was detected in 6 out of 38 samples of non-specific chronic lymphadenitis. Three of these patients were followed up, developed symptoms of tuberculosis and were cured following specific treatment. CONCLUSION: The data obtained in this study suggest that all cases of lymphadenopathies should be submitted to histopathology, Lowenstein-Jensen or Ogawa culture and polymerase chain reaction. Polymerase chain reaction may prove to be useful in providing an early and accurate detection of cases of extrapulmonary tuberculosis in HIV-positive patients with lymphadenopathies, avoiding empirical treatment and the possible development of resistant strains.

AIDS-related opportunistic infections; HIV; Tuberculosis; Tuberculosis, lymph node

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