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Logo of bmcphBioMed Centralsearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleBMC Public Health
BMC Public Health. 2012; 12: 808.
Published online 2012 September 19. doi:  10.1186/1471-2458-12-808
PMCID: PMC3490928

A descriptive study of TB cases finding practices in the three largest public general hospitals in Vietnam



A project was implemented in 2010 to improve TB notification and TB screening and diagnostic routines in large general hospitals. The aims of present study was to assess baseline TB screening and diagnostic practices in the three largest general hospitals in Vietnam.


To assess baseline TB screening and diagnostic practices in the three largest general hospitals in Vietnam.


The study had three elements: 1) Focus group discussions with hospital physicians; 2) review of hospital records and structured interviews of people who had a chest X-ray on any indication; and 3) record reviews and structured interviews of people newly diagnosed with TB.


The most commonly reported diagnostic pathway for pulmonary TB was chest X-ray followed by sputum-smear microscopy. Among 599 individuals who had a chest X-ray performed, 391 (65.1%) had recorded any abnormality, significantly higher in males (73.8%) than in females (54.7%), (p < 0.001), and the proportion was increasing with age (p <0.001). Among those with abnormal chest X-ray, 245 (69.2%) were investigated with sputum smear microscopy, and 49 (20%) were diagnosed with TB, of which 33 (13.5%) were smear-positive.

Of 103 consecutive TB cases enrolled in the study, 92 (90%) had chest X-ray as the initial test. Sixty-three (61.2%) fulfilled the TB suspect criteria based on respiratory symptoms (productive cough >2 weeks).


Chest X-ray is the preferred first test for TB in the largest hospitals in Vietnam. Chest X-ray is a sensitive screening tool for TB, which should be followed by a confirmatory TB test. While the majority of those with chest X-ray abnormalities are investigated with smear-microscopy, the high sputum-smear positivity ratio among them suggests that sputum-smear microscopy is done mainly for persons with quite clear TB signs or symptoms. TB screening and use of confirmatory diagnostic tests on wider indications seem warranted.

Keywords: Vietnam, Tuberculosis, Public-public mix, General hospital, Screening, Diagnosis, Hospital

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