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November 1995

Tuberculin Screening of Trauma Admissions at a University Hospital: A Preventive Strategy

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Surgery (Drs Taneja and Livingston and Mss Merritt and Vanek) and Preventive Medicine and Community Health (Dr Passannante), University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–New Jersey Medical School, Newark.

Arch Surg. 1995;130(11):1223-1227. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1995.01430110081015

Objective:  To determine the prevalence of tuberculosis (TB) infection in our trauma service population, namely, those patients who had positive Mantoux (purified protein derivative [PPD] [tuberculin]) tests.

Design:  Prospective study.

Setting:  Trauma service at a university hospital in Newark, NJ.

Patients and Methods:  During a 9-month period, 110 admitted trauma patients underwent screening for TB. Of these patients, 20 had undergone recent PPD tests in the last 6 months, of which nine were positive. The remaining 90 patients underwent PPD and delayed-type hypersensitivity skin tests (anergy panel); five patients were unavailable for follow-up. The patients also answered questions regarding human immunodeficiency virus status, risk factors for TB infection, and clinical symptoms.

Results:  The mean age of the study group was 34 years (age range, 13 to 69 years). Eighty-four percent of these patients were males who belonged to the high-risk socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic groups (poor, non-white). The tests for 15 patients (17%) were newly discovered to be positive for PPD. Eleven percent of the patients with negative PPD tests were anergic, thus raising the percentage of patients with positive PPD tests to 20%. The human immunodeficiency virus status was known in only 41% of the total patients. All patients with positive PPD tests had a chest x-ray film performed; of these patients, positive findings for TB were determined for one patient. Another patient had evidence of abdominal TB at laparotomy. All patients with positive PPD tests were given appointments in the pulmonary clinic for follow-up, and only three of 15 patients kept their appointments.

Conclusions:  Patients who were admitted to the trauma service were predominantly young males from high-risk groups with a high incidence of TB infection. Their admission to the trauma service was a unique opportunity for screening and implementing existing preventive programs.(Arch Surg. 1995;130:1223-1227)

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