Tuberculosis is caused by one of several bacteria belonging to the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC). Of these, Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the most important causative agent. Some people might suffer from latent TB (where the bacteria remains dormant for many years without showing any symptoms) or show symptoms, which is known as active TB. Whether you experience symtposm of not, the best way to detect TB is with the help of diagnostic tests. However, most people are scared about undergoing clinical tests. Dr Shalu Verma Kumar, CORE Diagnostics explains in detail about what happens during the diagnosis of tuberculosis.
How is TB diagnosed?
Here is a step by step guide to detecting tuberculosis:
The diagnosis of tuberculosis starts with a physical examination wherein a doctor examines your lungs with a stethoscope and checks your lymph nodes for swelling. This is one of the foremost steps in the detection of TB.
If your doctor suspects TB, then he/she may next order a chest X-ray or a CT scan to know more about the condition. This test may show white spots (granulomas) in your lungs where your immune system has trapped TB bacteria. A positive test might be an indication of tuberculosis.
If the chest X-ray is suggestive of TB, your doctor may take samples of your sputum (the mucus brought up by coughing) and test for the bacteria. The sputum is examined under the microscope and also cultured to find out the strain of bacteria and which antibiotics are effective. Based on the result, the medications are prescribed.
In addition to this, there are other tests that are used to detect TB. These include Mantoux test and Nucleic Acid amplification test. Mantoux test is a simple skin test and one of the commonest TB tests. In this, the physician injects a substance called PPD tuberculin into your arm. A swelling or bump at the site of injection post 48 to 72 hours shows that you are likely to have TB. Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests are routinely used in TB diagnosis. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved QuantiFERON-TB Gold Plus (QFT-Plus).
Image Source: Shutterstock