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Background: In the diagnostic process of pleural tuberculosis, the findings from video-assisted thoracoscopy (VATS) can be highly suggestive for the diagnosis of infection.
Methods: We reviewed VATS records between the years 2012 to 2016 of patients over 16 years of age with pleural effusion and suspected pleural tuberculosis. Symptoms, macroscopic and chemical characteristics of the fluid, surgical descriptions and visual diagnosis of the surgeon were recorded and were compared with the histopathology.
Results: 106 patients were selected, most of them men (71.7%), of whom approximately half were active military (51.3%). The predominant symptoms were dyspnea, pleuritic pain, fever and evolution time greater than 15 days (94.3%, 80.2%, 50% and 46,2%, respectively). These symptoms, in turn, were present more frequently in pleural tuberculosis patients than in non-tuberculosis patients. The fluid was mostly turbid yellow (44%) and lymphocytic cellularity exudate (77.4%). The VATS findings in patients with confirmed TBC included nodules (96.9%), adhesions (87.5%) and thickening (78.1%). The diagnosis made by the surgeon in relation to the histopathological diagnosis showed a sensitivity of 88.6% and a specificity of 98.4%.
Conclusion: There are highly suggestive characteristics of the macroscopic report of VATS that would allow a quicker diagnosis of pleural tuberculosis.