Background Systematic flexible bronchoscopy is advocated in the initial management of childhood pulmonary tuberculosis.
Methods Our aim was to describe and to compare the systematic flexible bronchoscopy findings of 53 children (6.5±4.4 years; 52.8% boys) with active pulmonary tuberculosis to their initial clinical and radiological (chest x-ray, n=53; CT, n=45) features in an 11-year retrospective study.
Results Flexible bronchoscopy was normal in 51% of cases. A severe tracheobronchial involvement (extrinsic compression >50% or obstructive endoluminal mass >25% of the lumen) was found in 10 patients. Flexible bronchoscopy guided therapy in 13 cases (steroids n=12, bronchoscopic extraction of a granuloma n=1) and permitted isolation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in three patients (5.7%). No useful information was obtained by flexible bronchoscopy in 73.5% of cases. No correlation was found between flexible bronchoscopy findings and clinical features or x-ray findings. Conversely, a strong correlation was found between severe bronchoscopic involvement and tracheobronchial luminal narrowing on CT. The CT negative predictive value was 100% (95% CI 91% to 100%). Based on CT results, flexible bronchoscopy could have been avoided in about 60% of our patients.
Conclusions Flexible bronchoscopy remains a very relevant tool in the diagnostic and therapeutic management of childhood pulmonary tuberculosis but resulted in treatment modification or microbiological proof in a minority of our patients. We propose that flexible bronchoscopy in children with pulmonary tuberculosis be limited to those who show tracheobronchial luminal narrowing on an initial CT scan.
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Competing interests None.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the local ethics committee.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.
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