Background: Short-course chemotherapy for 6 months is well established for pulmonary tuberculosis. However, little is known about the efficacy of the short-course chemotherapy for tuberculous pleural effusion. Tuberculous pleural effusion itself may be self-limiting without any treatment, but about two thirds of the patients with tuberculous pleural effusion may subsequently develop pulmonary tuberculosis within 5 years. After completing treatment for tuberculous pleural effusion, prolonged follow-up is necessary for evaluating the efficacy of the treatment. There is still no report on the efficacy of 6- month regimens for tuberculous pleural effusion in Korea, where the incidence of tuberculous disease and drug resistance is high. We studied the efficacy of 6 month short-course chemotherapy comparing with 9 month chemotherapy. Method: Retrospective study was done through medical record review in 238 patients with tuberculous pleural effusion who admitted to Asan Medical Center during May 1989-May 1993. The diagnosis of tuberculous pleural effusion was made by bacteriologic or histopathologic study. Results: Among 238 patients, 38 patients were dropped out during follow-up period. In 2 patients, second line drugs were prescribed according to known drug resistance results. And, in 23 patients, treatment longer than 9 months was done due to accompanying extrapulmonary tuberculosis or drug resistance. In 8 patients, treatment regimen was changed due to hepatotoxicity. Remaining 167 cases (70.2%) completed the treatment as scheduled; 6 month chemotherapy in 88 cases and 9 month chemotherapy in 79 cases. In 60 patients (35.9%) with pleural effusion only in chest X-ray finding, sputum smear or culture for M. tuberculosis was positive in 6 cases (10.0%), and in 63 patients (37.7%) with radiologically inactive pulmonary tuberculosis, sputum smear or culture was positive in 18 cases (28.6%). In 44 patients (26.3%) with radiologically active pulmonary tuberculosis, the sputum smear or culture was positive in 24 cases (54.5%). In 6-month chemotherapy group (n=88), during mean 23 months (range, 1-61 months) follow-up period, pulmonary tuberculosis developed in 1 case (1.4 %). In 9-month chemotherapy group(n = 79), during mean 23 months (range; 3-70 months) follow-up period, pulmonary tuberculosis developed in 2 cases (2.5%). All the cases who developed pulmonary tuberculosis also showed active pulmonary tuberculosis on initial chest X-ray before treatment. Conclusion: In patients with tuberculous pleural effusion, the incidence of pulmonary tuberculosis after 6 month chemotherapy showed no difference from that after 9 month chemotherapy. Thus, 6 month short-course chemotherapy seems to be an effective treatment for tuberculous pleural effusion.
- Short-course chemotherapy
- Tuberculous pleural effusion