Tuberc Respir Dis > Volume 53(1); 2002 > Article
Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases 2002;53(1):17-26.
DOI:    Published online July 1, 2002.
A Clinical Review of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) Due to Miliary Tuberculosis.
Young Soo Ahn, Sang Moo Lee
Department of Respiratory Medicine, Nowon Eulji Hospital, Seoul, Korea.
The detection and early elimination of the causes for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) at the initial stage can result in a more favorable prognosis. Miliary tuberculosis as a cause of the ARDS is quite rare. A diagnosis of miliary tuberculosis is difficult due to the diversity of radiological patterns and non-specific clinical findings, and low sensitivity of sputum examinations for acid-fast bacilli(AFBs). An analysis of the clinical data is the first step in diagnosing these unusual, rare cases. METHODS: In this study the clinical features, laboratory data, radiological findings and diagnostic methods were analyzed in 9 cases with an initial presentation of ARDS due to miliary tuberculosis. The ARDS was defined by the definition of the American-Europian Consensus Conference 1992. RESULTS: The mean age of the patients was 67+/-18 years (F:M=7:2). The chief complaints were dyspnea (5/9), coughing (3/9) and fever(5/9). On a physical examination, fine or coarse crackles were noted(6/9). The ARDS developed on average 6.7 days after the initial respiratory symptoms. The mean PaO2/FiO2 of the patients was 133.5+/-53.4, the number of cases with a WBC <5000/mm3 was 4 out of 9 cases. A platelet count <70,000/mm3 was observed in 2 out of 9 cases, and the serum albumin level was 2.6+/-0.6 g/dL. The initial simple chest PA showed ground glass appearances and consolidation in all cases, However, the miliary nodular densities were observed in only 4 out of the 9 cases. HRCT revealed alveolar densities and a consolidation in 5 out of 6 cases, and miliary nodules in 5 out of 6 cases, The diagnosis of tuberculosis was made by a liver biopsy (4/4, 100% sensitivity), a bone marrow biopsy (1/2, 50% sensitivity), and an open lung biopsy (1/1), the sputum AFB was positive in only 2 out of 9 cases. The patient was treated with INH, RFP, EMB, PZA, and steroids. The survival rate was 55.5%. CONCLUSION: Miliary tuberculosis should be considered as one of the causes for ARDS in areas where there is a high prevalence of tuberculosis. The chief complaints of the patients on admission are dyspnea, fever and coughing without any specific riskfactors. A liver biopsy is particularly useful in ARDS patients with mechanical ventilation to determine the causes of the ARDS if miliary tuberculosis is suspected as being the underlying disease.
Key Words: Miliary tuberculosis, Acute repiratory distress syndrome, Steroid

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