Main Article Content

Ziehl-Neelsen microscopy in the diagnosis of tuberculosis in settings of high human immunodeficiency virus prevalence

HDN Nyamogoba
G Kikuvi
S Mpoke
PG Waiyaki
D Van Soolingen


Objective: To determine the accuracy of Ziehl-Neelsen microscopy in the diagnosis of TB in setings of high HIV prevalence.
Design: Cross-sectional descriptive study.
Setting: Hospitals serving areas of high human immunodeficiency virus prevalence in western Kenya. The study was conducted between September 2007 and September 2009.
Results: In total, 341/872 (39.1%) of the TB suspects were positive in ZN, 53.1% (181/341) of them culture positive. Only 3.8% (20/531) of the ZN smear negatives were culture positive. Of the 695 suspects evaluated for both Mycobacterium and HIV infection, 255 (36.7%) were ZN smear positive, 42.7% of them HIV positive. Out of the 440 ZN smear negatives, 37% were HIV positive. Similarly, 168 suspects were culture positive, 46.4% of them HIV positive. The HIV infection did not significantly reduce ZN smear positivity rate (P = 0.42) and culture sensitivity (P = 0.09). The ZN sensitivity and specificity were 88.1% and 79.7%, respectively. The predictive values were 58.0 (PPV), and 95.5% (NPV), respectively. However, the area under the ROC curve was 0.84, with 95% CI between 0.80-0.87 and P< 0.001). The ZN smear microscopy had a lesser ability to distinguish between TB and non-TB cases compared to culture.
Conclusion: ZN microscopy causes a significant over-diagnosis of TB in settings of high HIV/AIDS prevalence. There is need for further studies on this subject taking into consideration the various confounding factors.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0012-835X