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Predicting tuberculosis relapse in patients treated with the standard 6-month regimen: an individual patient data meta-analysis


Background Relapse continues to place significant burden on patients and tuberculosis (TB) programmes worldwide. We aimed to determine clinical and microbiological factors associated with relapse in patients treated with the WHO standard 6-month regimen and then evaluate the accuracy of each factor at predicting an outcome of relapse.

Methods A systematic review was performed to identify randomised controlled trials reporting treatment outcomes on patients receiving the standard regimen. Authors were contacted and invited to share patient-level data (IPD). A one-step IPD meta-analysis, using random intercept logistic regression models and receiver operating characteristic curves, was performed to evaluate the predictive performance of variables of interest.

Results Individual patient data were obtained from 3 of the 12 identified studies. Of the 1189 patients with confirmed pulmonary TB who completed therapy, 67 (5.6%) relapsed. In multipredictor analysis, the presence of baseline cavitary disease with positive smear at 2 months was associated with an increased odds of relapse (OR 2.3(95% CI 1.3 to 4.2)) and a relapse risk of 10%. When area under the curve for each multipredictor model was compared, discrimination between low-risk and higher-risk patients was modest and similar to that of the reference model which accounted for age, sex and HIV status.

Conclusion Despite its poor predictive value, our results indicate that the combined presence of cavitary disease and 2-month positive smear status may be the best currently available marker for identifying individuals at an increased risk of relapse, particularly in resource-limited setting. Further investigation is required to assess whether this combined factor can be used to indicate different treatment requirements in clinical practice.

  • tuberculosis
  • clinical epidemiology
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