14.1.2  Chest X-ray

A chest X-ray can only be ordered by a doctor or a clinician.

Chest X-ray is another tool used in diagnosing TB. It is particularly important when diagnosing TB in individuals who are smear-negative for the TB bacteria or who are unable to produce sputum. It is also an important diagnostic tool for those persons who may have extra-pulmonary tuberculosis; such individuals may not be able to produce sputum and should be referred to the doctor/clinician for a chest X-ray. It is also possible to have EPTB and a normal chest X-ray.

  • What distinguishes EPTB from PTB?

  • In EPTB the active infection occurs in an organ other than the lungs (see Study Session 13, Table 13.2 for a list of organs that can be affected and the symptoms associated with EPTB infection).

  • Why do you think a chest X-ray is useful in diagnosing TB?

  • If you recall from Study Session 13, TB enters the body via inhalation of droplet nuclei contaminated with TB bacteria. Because they enter the body via the lungs they produce changes in the lungs that can be seen on a chest X-ray.

14.1.1  Microscopic examination of sputum smears

14.1.3  TB culture from sputum