Background:The majority of patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in South Africa are co-infected with HIV, but the radiographic features of MDR-TB and their relationship with time to sputum culture conversion in the antiretroviral therapy era have not been described.Methods:We reviewed baseline chest radiographs for 56 patients with MDR-TB from a rural area of South Africa. We analyzed the association of cavities, consolidation, pleural effusion and hilar lymphadenopathy with time to sputum culture conversion, adjusting for HIV status, baseline sputum smear and CD4 count.Results:Of the 56 subjects, 49 (88%) were HIV-positive, with a median CD4 count of 136 cells/mm3 (IQR 65-249). Thirty-two (57%) patients were sputum smear positive. Twenty-two (39%) patients had a cavity and 37 (66%) patients had consolidations. Cavitary disease and consolidations were each associated with longer time to culture conversion on bivariate analysis but not after adjusting for sputum smear status (aORs 1.79 [0.94-3.42] and 1.09 [0.67-1.78], respectively). Positive baseline sputum smear remained independently associated with longer time to conversion (aOR 3.45 [1.39-8.59]). We found no association between pleural effusion or hilar lymphadenopathy and time to conversion. Seventy-nine percent of patients were cured at the end of treatment.Conclusions:Despite high rates of HIV co-infection and advanced immunodeficiency, the majority of patients had severe pathology on baseline chest radiograph. Nevertheless, culture conversion rates were high and treatment outcomes were favorable. Cavitation and consolidation do not appear to have an independent association with time to culture conversion beyond that of baseline sputum smear status.
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