Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Epidemiology of extrapulmonary tuberculosis in Brazil: a hierarchical model

Teresa Gomes1, Bárbara Reis-Santos1, Adelmo Bertolde2, John L Johnson3, Lee W Riley4 and Ethel Leonor Maciel1*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Epidemiology, Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo, Vitória, ES, Brazil

2 Departament of Statistics, Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo, Vitória, ES, Brazil

3 Tuberculosis Research Unit, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, USA

4 Division of Infectious Disease and Vaccinology, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2014, 14:9  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-9

Published: 8 January 2014



Although extrapulmonary tuberculosis (EPTB) is less frequent than Pulmonary Tuberculosis (PTB) and is a secondary target for national TB control programs, its significance has increased worldwide during the HIV epidemic. The objective of this study was to examine the epidemiology of EPTB in Brazil between 2007 and 2011.


Cross-sectional study involving all cases of TB reported to the Brazilian Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (Sistema de Informações de Agravo de Notificação - SINAN) in Brazil between 2007 and 2011. Sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of patients with exclusively PTB and exclusively EPTB were compared. Following analysis with Pearson’s chi-square test, variables with p < 0.05 were included in a hierarchical regression model. Variables with p < 0.05 in the corresponding level were kept in the model.


A total of 427,548 cases of TB were included. Of these, 356,342 cases (83.35%; 95% confidence interval (CI) 83.23% - 83.45%) were PTB, 57,217 (13.37%; 95% CI 13.28% - 13.48%) were EPTB, 13,989 (3.27%; 95% CI 3.21% - 3.32%) were concurrent pulmonary and extrapulmonary TB. Patients with EPTB were mainly white (16.7%), and most (29.1%) patients had five to eight years of education. Among comorbidities, HIV infection was prominent (OR 2.15; 95% CI 2.09 – 2.21), although the proportion of cases awaiting test results or untested was high (39%). Ethanol use (OR 0.45; 95% CI 0.43 – 0.46), diabetes mellitus (OR 0.54; 95% CI 0.51 – 0.57) and mental illness (OR 0.88; 95% CI 0.82 – 0.95) were associated with PTB.


Thirteen percent of patients diagnosed with TB in Brazil have only EPTB. More effective diagnostic strategies and control measures are needed to reduce the number of cases of extrapulmonary TB in Brazil.