16 June 2016
During the treatment phase of active pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB), respiratory function impairment is usually restrictive. This may become obstructive, as a PTB-associated airflow obstruction (AFO) or as a later manifestation of underlying COPD.
The aim of the study was to examine the potential causes and risks for AFO development in PTB by exploring the aspects of spirometry limitations and clinical implications for the underlying COPD detection, taking into account various confounding factors.
Prospective, nest case–control study on 40 new cases of PTB with initial restrictive respiratory function impairment, diagnosed and treated according to the directly observed treatment short course (DOTS) strategy.
From all observed patients, 37.5% of them developed AFO upon the completion of PTB treatment, with significantly increased average of forced vital capacity (%) ( P<0.01). Their changes in forced expiratory volume in the first second (%) during the PTB treatment were strongly associated with the air pollution exposure in living (0.474%–20.971% for 95% confidence interval [CI]; P=0.041) and working environments (3.928%–20.379% for 95% CI; P=0.005), initial radiological extent of PTB lesions (0.018%–0.700% for 95% CI; P=0.047), leukocyte count (0.020%–1.328% for 95% CI; P=0.043), and C-reactive protein serum level (0.046%–0.205% for 95% CI; P=0.003) compared to the other patients. The multivariate logistic regression analysis model shows initial radiological extent of pulmonary tuberculosis lesions (OR 1.01–1.05 for 95% CI; P=0.02) and sputum conversion rate on culture (OR 1.02–1.68 for 95% CI; P=0.04) as the most significant predictors for the risk of AFO development.
AFO upon PTB treatment is a common manifestation of underlying COPD, which mostly occurs later, during the reparative processes in active PTB, even in the absence of major risk factors, such as cigarette smoking and biomass fuel dust exposure. Initial spirometry testing in patients with active PTB is not a sufficient and accurate approach in the detection of underlying COPD, which may lead to their further potential health deterioration.