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Impact of radiology reports on timely tuberculosis diagnosis
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    Terminology can be life-threatening

    The terminology of the chest x-ray report can, indeed, impact on the timeliness of the eventual validation of the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis, as shown by the case report of a 75 year old man who was originally admitted with fever and backache. Chest x-ray showed "fibronodular infiltration of the left apex of the lung" (1). On the basis of magnetic resonance imaging, backache was attributed to osteomyelitis, and he was treated with antibiotics, and there was no "work-up" of the fibronodular infiltration of the lung apex. Over a period of two weeks fever persisted, and he became pancytopenic. However, it was only after a further 3 weeks, when pancytopenia became more severe, that bone marrow aspiration and bone marrow biopsy was performed. The latter showed epitheloid granulomas and acid fast bacilli. Polymerase chain reaction analysis of the bone marrow specimens was positive for M tuberculosis DNA, and his sputum was culture positive for M tuberculosis. Although antituberculous chemotherapy was initiated immediately after the bone marrow results he died 3 days after commencing treatment (2).
    Comment
    Arguably, if the term "tuberculosis" had been used to qualify the nodular infiltration seen on chest x-ray, that would have raised the index of suspicion for tuberculosis (TB), and computed tomography might have been utilised to characterise the nodularity as being TB-related (2). Two weeks later, in the light of that heightene...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.