Thorax 53:536-548 doi:10.1136/thx.53.7.536
  • BTS guidelines

Chemotherapy and management of tuberculosis in the United Kingdom: recommendations 1998

  1. Joint Tuberculosis Committee of the British Thoracic Society*
  1. Dr P Ormerod.
  • Received 30 September 1997
  • Revision requested 9 December 1997
  • Revised 23 December 1997
  • Accepted 21 January 1998


BACKGROUND The guidelines on chemotherapy and management of tuberculosis in the United Kingdom have been reviewed and updated.

METHODS A subcommittee was appointed by the Joint Tuberculosis Committee (JTC) of the British Thoracic Society to revise the guidelines published in 1990 by the JTC. In preparing the revised guidelines the authors took account of new published evidence and graded the strength of evidence for their recommendations. The guidelines have been approved by the JTC and the Standards of Care Committee of the British Thoracic Society.

RECOMMENDATIONS (1) Patients with tuberculosis should be notified. (2) In view of the rising incidence of drug resistance, bacteriological confirmation and drug susceptibility testing should be sought whenever possible. (3) A six month short course regimen, with four drugs in the initial phase, should be used for all forms of tuberculosis, except meningitis, in both adults and children. (4) The fourth drug (ethambutol) in the initial phase can be omitted in certain circumstances. (5) Treatment of all patients should be supervised by physicians with full training in the management of tuberculosis and with direct working access to tuberculosis nurse specialists or health visitors. (6) Advice is given on (a) management in special situations and patient groups, (b) drug interactions, and special precautions and pretreatment screening, (c) chemoprophylaxis for different groups, and (d) the management of single and multiple drug resistance. (7) Advice is given on follow up after treatment and the organisational framework for tuberculosis services. (8) The role of directly observed therapy is discussed. (9) The management of multidrug resistant tuberculosis is explained in outline: such patients should be managed by physicians with special experience and in close liaison with the Mycobacterium Reference Units, and in hospitals with appropriate isolation facilities. (10) Infection control and segregation for such patients and for patients with dual infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and tuberculosis are covered in an .


  • * Subcommittee comprising: Peter Ormerod, Royal Infirmary, Blackburn (Chairman Joint Tuberculosis Committee); Ian Campbell, Llandough Hospital, Cardiff (Secretary Joint Tuberculosis Committee); Vas Novelli, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust, London (representing Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health); Anton Pozniak, King’s College Hospital, London (representing Medical Society for Study of Venereal Diseases); Peter Davies, Fazakerley Hospital, Liverpool; Craig Skinner, Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham; John Moore-Gillon, St Bartholomew’s and the Royal London Hospitals, London; Janet Darbyshire, MRC HIV Clinical Trials Centre, London; Francis Drobniewski, Director PHLS Mycobacterium Reference Unit, London (co-opted)