Open Access Research article

Clinical characteristics and treatment outcomes of tuberculosis in the elderly: a case control study

Yong Soo Kwon*, Su Young Chi, In Jae Oh, Kyu Sik Kim, Yu Il Kim, Sung Chul Lim and Young Chul Kim

Author Affiliations

Department of Internal Medicine, Chonnam National University Hospital, Gwangju, South Korea

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2013, 13:121  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-13-121

Published: 5 March 2013



The purpose of this study was to evaluate the differences in clinical characteristics and treatment outcomes between older and younger tuberculosis (TB) patients in Korea.


We retrospectively analyzed the medical records of 271 younger (20ā€“64 years old at diagnosis) and 199 older (ā‰„65 years) TB patients who had been newly diagnosed and treated at Chonnam National University Hospital from May 2008 to August 2010.


Dyspnea and comorbid medical conditions were more frequent and positive TB culture rates were higher in older TB patients. In chest computed tomography (CT) scans of pulmonary TB patients, older patients were less likely to have micronodules (<7 mm in diameter), nodules (<30 mm in diameter), masses (>30 mm in diameter), and cavities compared with younger patients, but were more likely to have consolidations. Incidence of adverse drug reactions did not differ between the two groups, except for severe gastrointestinal disorders. There were no significant differences in favorable treatment outcomes between younger and older TB patients (97% vs. 94%, respectively; pā€‰=ā€‰0.251).


Older TB patients had more frequent dyspnea and less frequent active TB findings on chest CT. Treatment success and adverse drug reaction rates were similar in older and younger TB patients.

Age; Clinical presentations; Diagnosis; Treatment outcome; Tuberculosis