According to the statistics of Korean National Tuberculosis Association, incidence of TB in 2010 was 36,305 in every 100,000 population3
. Out of the 36,305 patients, 28,176 were PTB patients, and we estimate additional patients who may have not been diagnosed or reported. Death rate in every 100,000 population was 4.8 showing a reduction from 7.2 in 2000. Accordingly, the death rate of PTB ranks outside top 10 in Korea for the last 4 years. Out of the 1,021 TB inpatietns in the present study, 960 subjects were diagnosed with PTB based on microbiological tests. Among them, 67 patients died during hospital stay, and death rate was about 6.9%. This result is very higher than the result of Korean National Tuberculosis Association in 2010, which was 4.8 in a population of 100,000. This study was conducted in inpatients of tertiary hospital with a high ratio of severe cases resulting in a higher death rate than that of Korean National Tuberculosis Association.
In the study conducted in North Carolina, US, Nguyen et al.9
reported 721 (13.5%) death cases out of 5,311 TB patients over the period of 10 years (1993~2003). According to the study, risk factors of TB death included old age, miliary or meningeal diseases and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). In the study conducted in San Francisco, California, US, Nahid et al.10
, reported 37 (6.6%) death cases out of 565 patients between 1990 and 2001, and factors of death such as HIV infection, old age, positive sputum exam result, and poor TB treatments. According to the study by Low et al.11
conducted in 7,433 patients in Singapore between 2000 and 2006, 884 (11.9%) patients died. Risk factors included old age, male, Malayan, microbiological definite diagnosis, history of using long-term care facilities, and strains having resistance against at least isoniazid. Lefebvre and Falzon12
reported 3,085 (7.8%) cases of death out of 39,566 patients in 15 EU countries between 2002 and 2004. Risk factors of death included old age and resistance against isoniazid and rifampin in addition to male and history of TB treatments. In Africa, more studies on HIV have been reported than studies on risk factors associated with TB13
. Few studies have been reported on risk factors of TB death in Korea. Shin et al.15
reported 27 death cases with 54 control group patients in 2006. In the study, significant difference was confirmed in comorbidity, admission via emergency room, initial ICU treatments, dyspnea at admission, general weakness, miliary TB, hemoglobin, blood urea nitrogen, albumin, cholesterol, AST and CRP. Among these, initial ICU treatments and albumin were confirmed as independent factors. In the areas other than Africa, old age, HIV, gender and isoniazid drug-resistant strains were risk factors. Since age and gender were analyzed in pair in Korean studies including the present study, age and gender were excluded from risk factors. But, number of death patients showed an increase in elderly patients in the age of 60 or older () evidencing an old age as a factor associated with death. Presence of drug-resistant strains had a statistical significance between two groups, but when drug-resistant strains were compared according to each agent, no significant finding was observed. Due to small numbers of drug-resistant strains, it was not easy to confirm significance. Tests on HIV were not conducted and accordingly, its possibility as a risk factor was not confirmed. However, considering increasing number of HIV patients, studies on HIV will be necessary as Shin et al.15
As a result of comparing risk factors of the present study with those of Korean studies, many factors stated in the studies are common. Factors such as admission via emergency room, initial ICU treatments, general weakness, blood urea nitrogen, CRP, hemoglobin, albumin and total cholesterol were significant in two studies. However, in multivariate analysis, initial ICU treatment was the only common independent factor associated with death. Only one factor was common as an independent factor, but through univariate analysis, factors such as systemic condition of patients at admission, nutritional state and intensive care were confirmed to affect prognosis. This result corresponds to that of Rao et al.16
, which reported that death factors were decided not only by severity and chronic condition of TB but systemic health state of patients.
In this study, patients complained coughing and dyspnea as most common symptoms, but decedent group did significantly not cough, and patients with general weakness, poor oral intake and mental deterioration showed a statistically significant difference between the groups. As comorbidity, respiratory diseases such as history of PTB or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diffuse interstitial lung disease and asthma did not show significant difference between the groups. Only kidney diseases including end stage renal disease showed a significant difference but the number of sample was too small to confirm.
In microbiological statistics, Low et al.11
and Lefebvre and Falzon12
reported that presence of drug-resistant strains was significant, particularly in multidrug-resistant strains. In the present study, positive result of smear test, and presence of drug-resistant strains were significant between the groups, but when each type of drug-resistant strains was compared, no statistical significance was observed. In addition, due to the small number of samples, statistical significance on drug-resistant strains was not confirmed.
Through radiologic image divided 6 parts, number of involved parts in decedent group were significantly more than control group, and the statistical significance was also confirmed in 3 sub-divided severity levels according to the standards of National Tuberculosis Association, US. However, severity level in multivariate test was not recognized as an independent factor by chest X-ray.
Increase in WBC count and CRP at admission showed a significant difference between the groups, this is implying an influence of inflammatory responses at admission on death. Recently Rasmussen et al.17
reported that procalcitonin could help anticipate severity and death in TB patients. Therefore, correlation with inflammation markers such as procalcitonin may be necessary to study in future.
Plasma protein which helps assess nutritional status includes albumin, prealbumin, transferrin and ferritin18
. According to Goldwasser and Feldman19
, the lower the level of albumin was, the higher the death rate was. In the present study, the albumin level of death group was significantly lower than that of survivor group, but it was not confirmed as an independent factor. For detailed investigation on nutritional status, body mass index should be checked together.
Out of the 82 death patients, causes of death of 7 patients were not confirmed due to loss of contact with their family in some cases of moribund discharge, while 35 (42.7%) patients were confirmed that their PTB was directly associated with death. The most common factor was septic shock, but hemoptysis (7 subjects, 20.0%) showed a significant difference from decedent group which did not die of PTB. According to Davis et al.5
, only 20 (49%) out of 41 death patients died of TB, and number of deaths due to hemoptysis was 4 (20%) showing a similar result to the present study.
According to the present study and Shin et al.15
, the only common independent factor in multivariate analysis was initial ICU treatment. Zahar et al.20
reported that cases with delay in diagnosis and treatments of TB, and active PTB in severe level which requires mechanical ventilation show high death rate. In addition, delay in TB treatments for patients in ICU with respiratory failure results in a high death rate. In Korea, Kang et al.21
reported 12 death cases out of 43 PTB patients admitted in ICU. In univariate analysis, significant items were major symptoms such as coughing, number of invaded parts of the lung, lymphocyte count, albumin, cholesterol and CRP. In multiple regression analysis, respiratory failure was the independent factor affecting death. In the present study, 47 patients were admitted via ICU, and 31 died. In future, study on causes of death in ICU will be necessary.
In the present study, among patients accompanied TB, we can find factors which correlated with death, but there are limitations. First, age and gender were paired in selecting subjects of survivor group, but number of elderly patients may be too small for analysis. In addition, results on factors such as drug-resistant strains may be distorted due to the small sample size. Second, there is a limitation using past patient records. Third, cases of PT which were accidentally found during hospital stay could be so mild that it might not be directly associated with death. Fourth, in some cases of moribund discharge, patient records and contact information were not sufficient for confirming cause of death.
In treatments of PTB, delayed treatments may increase risk of death. So, stabilization of systemic condition, early diagnosis and appropriate treatments may contribute to lowering TB death rate. Data of the present study may contribute to making prognosis of TB patients, and may be used for future TB studies.