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Utility of broad-spectrum antibiotics for diagnosing pulmonary tuberculosis in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis

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Titus H Divala, Katherine L Fielding, Chikondi Kandulu, Marriott Nliwasa, Derek James Sloan, Ankur Gupta-Wright, Elizabeth L Corbett

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Suboptimal diagnostics for pulmonary tuberculosis drive the use of the so-called trial of antibiotics, a course of broad-spectrum antibiotics without activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis that is given to patients who are mycobacteriology negative but symptomatic, with the aim of distinguishing pulmonary tuberculosis from bacterial lower respiratory tract infection. The underlying assumption—that patients with lower respiratory tract infection will improve, whereas those with pulmonary tuberculosis will not—has an unclear evidence base for such a widely used intervention (at least 26·5 million courses are prescribed per year). We aimed to collate available evidence on the diagnostic performance of the trial of antibiotics.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1089-1098
Number of pages10
JournalLancet Infectious Diseases
Issue number9
Early online date18 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020

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