Background Patients undergoing tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α antagonist therapy are at increased risk of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) reactivation. The aim of this study was to determine the optimum available screening strategy for identifying patients for tuberculosis (TB) chemoprophylaxis.
Methods We conducted a prospective observational study of consecutive adults with chronic rheumatological disease referred for LTBI screening prior to commencement of TNF-α antagonist therapy. All patients included had calculation of TB risk according to age, ethnicity and year of UK entry, as described in the 2005 British Thoracic Society (BTS) guidelines and measurement of tuberculin skin test (TST) and T.Spot.TB.
Results There were 187 patients included in the study, with 157 patients (84%) taking immunosuppressants. 137 patients would require further risk stratification according to the BTS algorithm, with 110 (80.3%) classified as being at low risk of having LTBI. There were 39 patients (35.5%) who were categorised as low risk but were either TST and/or T.Spot positive and would not have received chemoprophylaxis according to the BTS algorithm. Combination of all three methods (risk stratification and/or positive T.Spot and/or positive TST) identified 66 patients out of 137 who would potentially be offered chemoprophylaxis, which was greater than any single test or two-test combination.
Conclusion Performing both a TST and T.Spot in patients on immunosuppressants prior to commencement of TNF-α antagonist therapy gives an additional yield of potential LTBI compared with use of risk stratification tables alone. Our results suggest that use of all three screening modalities gives the highest yield of patients potentially requiring chemoprophylaxis.
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