Email This
Please enter a Recipient Address and/or check the Send me a copy checkbox.
Your email has been sent.
Your Name: 

Copy me on this email ()

Recipient's Email: 
Separate multiple email addresses with commas (Limit is 10).
Optional Message: 
Rubor, Dolor, Calor, Tumor

Expletive Deleted

Mark Crislip, MD, Infectious Diseases, 11:48PM May 22, 2013

I wish I was half as smart as I like to think I am. Medicine is often about making decisions with the data at hand and sometimes those decisions are wrong.  Maybe if I were smarter I would be closer to perfect.

The patient is a new hire as a nursing assistant and part of the evaluation is a PPD. Being from Africa, it is not a surprise that the PPD is a whopping positive, so they send the patient to me.

He has no symptoms of TB, no consumption, no pulmonary complaints. He has no good history of TB exposure but coming from Sub-Saharan Africa it is likely he had multiple unrecognized exposures in his life.

Chest X-ray is interesting. I would have called it normal. Radiology, and this is why we have radiologists, say there is a faint right upper lobe infiltrate. I see it only after reading the radiologists report.

Patient does not have a cough, much less sputum production, and I have to know what is in that right upper lobe. With hesitation I arrange a bronchoscopy.

The specimens are negative on smear and the cultures are negative at three weeks, and the patient is without symptoms and is anxious to start earning an income, so I think, it's not TB, probably not infectious TB given no cavity or cough, so it is OK to return to work. If they had been in the hospital for r/o TB I would have called them good to go. 

You know where this is going.

At the start of week five AFB are growing and it is MTB. Expletive deleted.

It is probably early reactivation TB and he is mostly controlling it. A repeat CXR shows the infiltrate is a tich worse, a slightly nodular smudge, like a Messier object.

He is still completely without symptoms and off work.

Active TB remains difficult to diagnose with alacrity, even after 400 years of infecting humans. Can't even trust a negative chest x-ray to rule out the disease:

"The rate of normal CXR among persons with culture-confirmed pulmonary TB was high. Respiratory specimen cultures should be obtained in TB suspects with a normal CXR, particularly HIV-infected persons."

Oh well. Live and learn. At least no harm done.

"If I had all the answers, I'd run for God." Max Klinger


Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2008 Apr;12(4):397-403. Normal chest radiography in pulmonary tuberculosis: implications for obtaining respiratory specimen cultures.

About This Blog

For the Benefit of Mr Kite, there will be ID tonight. Infectious Diseases! Antibiotics! Viruses and Bacteria and Fungi! Oh my! Exclamation marks!!!!!! No trampolines, nor will any band be playing at 10 to 6. And Henry the Horse died of the Strangles. Sorry. That's the problem with infections.

The endless excitement that is the daily practice of Infectious Diseases in a Portland teaching hospital! The need for meta data!

Every day I make infectious disease rounds in the hospital and see at least one cool case or learn something new. 25 years and I still do not know everything. Why be selfish and keep all of that wonder and knowledge to myself? This blog will be a mostly qod account of days events, a cool ID case, a referenced pearl, and a minimum of 1 horrible, yet ultimately feeble, attempt at humor. I write these at night or in spare moments. There is always someone who will quibble about spelling, punctuation or grammer. My response is live with it. It's a blog, not Mandel.

Read and listen to more of me at my multimedia empire linked below.
Because The World Needs More Mark Crislip (tm).

Disclosure: Mark A. Crislip, MD, has disclosed the following relevant financial relationships:
Received income in an amount equal to or greater than $250 from: Pusware LLC
Have a 5% or greater equity interest in: Pusware LLC (owner)

  • Mark Crislip

    Mark Crislip, MD, has been practicing in infectious diseases in Portland, Oregon, since 1990. He is nobody from nowhere, but he has an enormous ego that leads him to think someone might care about what he has to say about infectious diseases. And so he blogs and podcasts and writes on the most endlessly fascinating specialty in all of medicine.

    Mark A. Crislip, MD, has disclosed the following relevant financial relationships: Owner, Pusware LLC. He as not talked to a drug rep in over 25 years and does not even eat the pizza provided at conferences. But he is for sale for the right price. Please. Someone. Buy me.

The content of this blog does not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of Medscape.
Share This
Add this blog page to your favorite Social Media site.
Social Bookmarking
Add this blog post to your favorite Social Bookmarking site.

All material on this website is protected by copyright, Copyright © 1994-2014 by WebMD LLC. This website also contains material copyrighted by 3rd parties.