This study was performed to evaluate the efficacy of using a thin bronchoscope for the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB).
Between March 2019 and November 2021, we prospectively enrolled participants with suspected PTB whose sputum acid-fast bacilli (AFB) smear and tuberculosis (TB) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests were negative or who could not produce self-expectorated sputum. Participants were randomized to a control group (bronchial washing [BW] using a 5.9-mm conventional bronchoscope guided by chest computed tomography) or an investigational group (BW using a 4.0-mm thin bronchoscope under virtual bronchoscopic navigation guidance). The primary outcome was detection of TB in BW fluid, defined as a positive result in the Xpert MTB/RIF assay. The secondary outcomes included AFB smear and Mycobacterium tuberculosis culture positivity, time to treatment initiation, and bronchoscopy-related complications.
In total, 85 participants were included in the final analysis (43 in the control group and 42 in the investigational group). Twenty-three and 29, respectively, were finally diagnosed with PTB. The TB detection rate in BW fluid was higher in the investigational group (72.4% vs 43.5%, P = .035). Mycobacterium tuberculosis culture positivity was also higher in the investigational group (79.3% vs 52.2%, P = .038). No participants required premature bronchoscopy termination because of complications. Of the participants with PTB, the time to treatment initiation was shorter in the investigational group (median, 2.0 days vs 4.0 days, P = .001).
BW using a thin bronchoscope increases the TB detection rate in patients with PTB compared to conventional bronchoscopy.