C-Reactive Protein in Lymphocytic Pleural Effusions: A Diagnostic Aid in Tuberculous PleuritisGarcia-Pachon E. · Soler M.J. · Padilla-Navas I. · Romero V. · Shum C.
Section of Pneumology, Hospital General Universitario, Elche, Spain
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Background:C-reactive protein (CRP) pleural fluid levels have been found to be higher in tuberculosis and parapneumonic effusions than in other causes of pleural effusion. Objective:The aim of this study was to analyze whether CRP (a simple and inexpensive test) may be a diagnostic aid for tuberculosis in lymphocytic pleural effusions. Methods:One hundred and forty-four patients with a lymphocytic pleural effusion (more than 50% lymphocytes in the differential white blood cell count) were included. The patients were 93 men (65%) and 51 women (35%), aged 64 ± 18 years (mean ± SD). The diagnoses were as follows: tuberculosis, 20; pleural effusion associated with malignancy, 69; transudates, 38; other benign exudates, 17. Results: The CRP pleural fluid level was higher in tuberculous pleuritis (54 ± 24 mg/l) than in lymphocytic effusions of other origin (21 ± 16 mg/l; p < 0.001). High CRP levels (≧50 mg/l) have a high specificity for tuberculosis (95%), and low levels (<30 mg/l) have a high sensitivity (95%) for excluding disease. Conclusions: CRP pleural fluid level determination is useful in the diagnostic workup of lymphocytic pleural effusions. High CRP levels are very suggestive of tuberculous pleuritis, and low CRP levels make this diagnosis unlikely.
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