Where is the patient examined?

The place of examination depends on the condition and symptoms of the patient. Chest x-ray can be taken at the primary health care e.g. at the health station. Sputum samples can be collected at home during three consecutive mornings.
The diagnosis is done and the treatment is always started in the hospital in the specialized health care. Children under 16-years of age are examined in the children’s clinic and wards in the hospital. Adults are examined in different wards depending on their symptoms. For example if TB of the lungs is suspected, the examinations are done in the outpatient department or in the ward of lung clinic. If TB of lymph nodes of the neck is suspected, an ear specialist will examine the patient.

How is TB disease diagnosed?

TB of the lungs is usually detected in the chest radiograph (x-ray) and confirmed by sputum examinations. With a special staining method and microscopical examination of sputum it is possible to detect bacteria in the sputum. If TB grows in the culture it confirms the diagnosis. Sometimes it is necessary to perform a bronchoscopy or computed tomography (CT) of the lungs.

A small child swallows sputum and cannot produce samples like adults. Therefore a specimen for staining and culturing is obtained by gastric aspirate. This is performed in the hospital.

Various imaging techniques are used when examining TB in other sites than lungs. In addition, a sample of the tissue or pus from the body site where the disease is located is taken and examined.