Background: In the Netherlands the incidence of tuberculosis (TB) has increased during the last decade. Growing immigration and international travel were important determining factors. To determine if this has resulted inaltered clinical manifestations of the disease, we assessed the clinical spectrum of all TB cases diagnosed at our hospital in the period 1994 to 2000.
Methods: All culture-proven TB cases during the study period were retrospectively reviewed for clinical and demographic data.
Results: Sixty-five patients were identified. Solitary pulmonary TB was diagnosed in 33.9%, extrapulmonary TB in 51.8% and combined pulmonary and extrapulmonary TB in 14.3% of all cases. Patients were of foreign descent in 78.6% of all cases. Incidence peaked between 15 to 45 years. Decreased immunity was an important determining factor in the older patients. Presenting symptoms were mostly aspecific causing an important doctor’s delay in establishing the diagnosis in 25%. Mortality was 3.6% and isoniazid resistance 3.6%
Conclusions: Our data suggest an increase in the percentage of extrapulmonary TB concomitantly with an increasing percentage of patients of foreign descent. Because of aspecific presenting symptoms, TB was often diagnosed late. Treatment is mainly hindered by non-compliance and a high index of suspicion is necessary in making the diagnosis.