Diagnostic role of internal mammary lymph node involvement in tuberculous pleurisy: a multicenter study

G. Levi, C. Rocchetti, F. Mei, G. M. Stella, S. Lettieri, F. Lococo, F. Taccari, C. Seguiti, M. Fantoni, F. Natali, P. Candoli, C. Bortolotto, V. Pinelli, M. Mondoni, P. Carlucci, A. Fabbri, M. Trezzi, L. Vannucchi, M. Bonifazi, F. PorcarelliS. Gasparini, G. Sica, T. Valente, D. Biondini, M. Damin, V. Liani, M. Tamburrini, C. Sorino, F. Mezzasalma, M. U. Scaramozzino, L. Pini, M. Bezzi, G. P. Marchetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and objectives: Diagnosis of tuberculous pleurisy (TP) may be challenging and it often requires pleural biopsy. A tool able to increase pre-test probability of TP may be helpful to guide diagnostic work-up and enlargement of internal mammary lymph node (IMLN) has been suggested to play a potential role. The aim of the present investigation was to assess role of IMLN involvement in TP in a multi-centric case-control study, by comparing its prevalence and test performance to those observed in patients with infectious, non-tuberculous pleurisy (NTIP), and in controls free from respiratory diseases (CP). Methods: A total of 419 patients, from 14 Pulmonology Units across Italy were enrolled (127 patients affected by TP, 163 affected by NTIP and 129 CP). Prevalence, accuracy and predictive values of ipsilateral IMLN involvement between cases and control groups were assessed, as well as concordance between chest computed tomography (CT scan) and thoracic ultrasound (TUS) measurements. Results: The prevalence of ipsilateral IMLN involvement in TP was significantly higher than that observed in NTIP and CP groups (respectively 77.2%, 39.3% and 14.7%). Results on test performance, stratified by age, revealed a high positive predictive value in patients aged ≤50 years, while a high negative predictive value in patients aged >50 years. The comparison between CT scan and ultrasound showed moderate agreement (Kappa=0.502). Conclusions: Evaluation of IMLN involvement plays a relevant role in assessing the pre-test probability of TP. Considering the increasing global prevalence of mycobacterial infections, a tool able to guide diagnostic work-up of suspected TP is crucial, especially where local sources are limited.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Computed tomography
  • Diagnosis
  • Internal mammary lymph node
  • Pleural effusion
  • Thoracic ultrasound
  • Tuberculosis
  • Tuberculous pleurisy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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