Korean J Intern Med.  2020 Sep;35(5):1145-1153. 10.3904/kjim.2019.036.

Changes in chest X-ray findings in 1- and 2-month group after treatment initiation for suspected pulmonary tuberculosis

  • 1Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea


Although re-evaluation of radiographic follow-up after 2 to 3 months of therapy is recommended for patients administered anti-tuberculosis medication owing to suspected pulmonary tuberculosis, reported findings are limited. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate changes in 1- and 2-month chest X-ray (CXR) findings after the treatment initiation and compared them according to the final diagnosis of tuberculosis or non-tuberculosis.
Patients who started anti-tuberculosis medication for suspected pulmonary tuberculosis were selected at a tertiary referral hospital in South Korea between January 2012 and December 2015. Changes in the 1- and 2-month CXR findings were classified as improved, unchanged, and aggravated.
Among the 120 patients enrolled in the 1-month CXR group, 76 (63.3%) had the final diagnosis of tuberculosis. Comparison between the 1-month CXR changes and diagnosis showed that the final diagnosis was tuberculosis in 81.8% (45/55), 50.0% (26/52), and 38.5% (5/13) of patients whose 1-month CXR was improved, unchanged, and aggravated, respectively. In the 2-month CXR group, 167 patients were enrolled, and 139 (83.2%) of them were diagnosed with tuberculosis. Tuberculosis was the final diagnosis in 92.6% (100/108), 70.0% (35/50), and 44.4% (4/9) patients with improved, unchanged, and aggravated 2-month CXR findings, respectively. In patients with the final diagnosis of non-tuberculosis, nontuberculous mycobacteria and malignancy were the most common causes of improved and aggravated 1- and 2-month CXR findings, respectively.
Two-month CXR findings were of limited value for deciding on whether to continue anti-tuberculosis treatment. One-month CXR findings could help determine the need for further work-up.


Antitubercular agents; Follow-up studies; Pulmonary tuberculosis; X-rays
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