The diagnostic yield and safety of sputum induction in suspected pulmonary tuberculosis: The experience of a single tertiary care center in Saudi Arabia

Mohammed Khan, Rajkumar Rajendram, Abdullah Al-Harbi, Majed Al-Ghamdi, Emad Masuadi, Mostafa Obaidi, Hamdan Al-Jahdali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Sputum smear microscopy examination and culture for tuberculosis (TB) remain a fundamental tool of diagnosis but may be negative up to 50% case of active pulmonary TB. Bronchoscopy to obtain sputum is invasive and not readily available. Alternative methods of obtaining sputum specimens are crucial in suspected pulmonary TB cases who are unable to expectorate. In this context, it may be beneficial to stimulate sputum production by administering a mist of hypertonic saline produced by ultrasonic nebulization. The aims of the study are to describe the experience of a tertiary center in Saudi Arabia with sputum induction (SI) for the investigation of patients suspected to have sputum scare TB. Methods: A retrospective cohort study was performed. All patients suspected of sputum scare TB and investigated with SI were included. Standard descriptive statistics were used. Categorical data presented as frequency were compared using the Chi square test. Continuous data presented as mean ± standard deviation were compared using Student's t test. Sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values were calculated. Results: Of 252 patients with suspected TB who underwent SI, 78 (31%) were ultimately diagnosed to have TB. Culture of induced sputum confirmed the diagnosis of TB in 44 (56.4%) of these patients. However, the diagnosis of TB would have been missed in 13.5% of the cohort if no further investigations were done. The incidence of complications was low. No patients required hospitalization or specialist intervention. Conclusions: SI is safe well tolerated and inexpensive. It may reduce the need for bronchoscopy in patients with suspected sputum scare TB. However, around 20% of TB can be missed by SI unless further investigations are performed. Hence, patients suspected to have sputum scare TB in whom the risk of bronchoscopy is high, a clinical decision on the appropriateness of empirical therapy is often required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-392
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Mycobacteriology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Bronchoscopy
  • diagnosis
  • sputum induction
  • sputum-scarce respiratory disease
  • tuberculosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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