Imaging modalities for pulmonary tuberculosis in children: A systematic review


PURPOSE: The optimal choice of protocol for diagnostic imaging in children with tuberculosis (TB) is a contemporary challenge due to the war in Ukraine, which potentially can create a steep rise in TB cases in Western Europe. We aimed to gather all primary research comparing imaging modalities and their diagnostic accuracies for pulmonary findings in children with suspected or confirmed pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB).

METHOD: We searched the databases PubMed and Embase using pre-specified search terms, for English- and non-English published and un-published reports from the period 1972 to 2022. We retrieved reports via citation search in excluded literature reviews and systematic reviews. Studies were eligible if most of the study population was between 0 and 18 years of age with confirmed or suspected PTB, and study participants had described diagnostic images from two or more different imaging modalities.

RESULTS: A total of 15 studies investigated conventional chest X-Ray (CXR) and computed tomography (CT) in diagnosing PTB in children. Nine studies investigated the number of participants in where CT or CXR confirmed the diagnosis of TB, and all of them, including a total of 1244 patients, reported that findings compatible with TB were more frequently detected on CT than CXR. Only two studies did not include radiological findings as part of their diagnostic criteria for PTB, and combined they showed that CT diagnosed 54/54 (100 %) children with confirmed PTB, while CXR diagnosed 42/54 (78 %). Two studies compared magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with CXR and showed that MRI diagnosed more children with PTB than CXR. One study reported a higher positive predictive value (PPV), sensitivity and specificity for PTB findings for MRI than CXR. One study compared CXR with high-kilovolt (high-kV) CXR, finding compatible sensitivity and specificity regarding confirmation of PTB. Two studies compared ultrasound (US) with CXR and found that US had a higher diagnostic yield and more often correctly identified consolidations, mediastinal LAP, and pleural effusion.

CONCLUSION: CT showed a higher diagnostic accuracy for PTB findings than CXR, MRI and US, and should be the imaging modality of first choice when available. MRI had a higher sensitivity and specificity than CXR for LAP, pleural effusion, and cavitation. US was complimentary in initial diagnostic work-up and follow up. A diagnostic strategy for PTB in children according to local availability and expertise is proposed, as no evidence from this systematic review shows otherwise, in acknowledgement of the expertise in high TB-burdened countries. CT can be performed when in doubt, due to the higher diagnostic yield.

TidsskriftEuropean Journal of Radiology Open
Sider (fra-til)100472
StatusUdgivet - 2023


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