Early diagnosis of miliary tuberculosis in a hemodialysis patient by combining two interferon-γ-release assays: A case report

Florence Bonkain, Dieter De Clerck, Violette Dirix, Mahavir Singh, Camille Locht, Francoise Mascart, Veronique Corbiere

Research output: Other contribution

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Patients with end-stage renal disease undergoing chronic hemodialysis (HD) are at high risk to develop tuberculosis (TB) associated with a high mortality rate. TB diagnosis is often delayed due to non-specific symptoms, frequent extra-pulmonary manifestations, and rare microbiological confirmation. This case report illustrates the clear added value of combined interferon-γ-release assays (IGRA) in response to different mycobacterial antigens for an early diagnosis of TB in HD patients. Case presentation: We report the case of an Egyptian patient under chronic HD treatment, who presented with recurrent episodes of fever and myalgia of unknown origin, associated with an important inflammatory syndrome. These episodes resolved partially or completely within less than 1 month without any treatment but recurred 10 times within 3 years. Chest Computed Tomography and 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography (18FDG PET-CT) demonstrated several active mediastinal lymphadenopathies. TB was the first suspected diagnosis but cultures and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) remained negative on a mediastinal lymph node aspiration. In contrast, the results from two different IGRA performed on blood were highly suggestive of TB disease. Several granulomas, some of them with central non-caseating necrosis, were demonstrated on a pulmonary nodule obtained by thoracoscopic resection, but PCR and culture remained negative for M. tuberculosis. Three years after the initial symptoms, a new PET-CT revealed a retro-clavicular lymphadenopathy in addition to the mediastinal lymphadenopathies, and the M. tuberculosis culture performed on the resected lymphadenopathy was positive. Antibiotic treatment for TB was started and resulted in a clear improvement of the patient's clinical condition, allowing him to successfully receive a renal graft. Conclusions: In view of the high frequency of TB in patients undergoing chronic HD and of the limitations of the classical diagnosis procedures, nephrologists have to diagnose TB mostly on clinical suspicion. We demonstrate here that the use of a combined IGRA to two different mycobacterial antigens may significantly raise the index of suspicion and help clinicians to decide starting anti-TB treatment in HD patients.

Original languageEnglish
Typecase report
Media of outputtext
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2020

Publication series

NameBMC Nephrology
PublisherBioMed Central
ISSN (Print)1471-2369


  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection
  • Diagnosis
  • Interferon-gamma release assay
  • Hemodialysis


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