Tuberculosis

What is Tuberculosis?

It is a bacterial infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

How does it spread?

The bacteria spreads through air when a patient with TB in the lungs coughs. This would spread the bacteria in the environment. If a child gets exposed to a patient with active TB disease (especially living in the house), then the child can acquire TB.

What are the parts of the body involved with TB?

It can involve any part of the body. The most common parts involved are the lungs, lymph nodes, abdomen and brain. It can also involve the bones, skin, etc.

What are the symptoms of Pulmonary TB in children?

Cough lasting for more than 2 weeks, fever, weight loss, poor appetite and weakness are the common symptoms.

How do you diagnose pulmonary TB?

  • Chest Xray: Chest Xray could be suggestive but not diagnostic of TB except in some cases.
  • Sputum testing: Usually a sputum test is done in children who can produce sputum.
  • Gastric Aspirates: In children who cannot produce sputum, washing from the stomach are taken for testing. This can be taken very easily by passing a small tube into the stomach from the nose.
  • Flexible bronchoscopy: In case where this does not give us a result, bronchoscopy can be done to confim the diagnosis and take samples directly from the lungs.
  • Mantoux test: small amount of tuberculin is injected into the skin and the reaction is read at 72 hours. More than 10 mm is suggestive of TB.
  • CT Scan of chest might be required in some cases.

How do you diagnose a lymph node TB?

Lymph node TB is diagnosed by taking a small amount of sample from the node using a very thin needle. This is sent to the lab for detailed testing.

How do you diagnose a abdominal TB?

Usually the signs and symptoms in association with an ultrasound of abdomen can make a diagnosis. In a few cases CT scan might be required in addition.

How do you treat a child with TB?

A combination of 4 medicines (isoniazid, rifampicin, pyrazinamide, ethambutol) is used for 6 months.