Evaluation of tests for the diagnosis of childhood pulmonary tuberculosis (CPTB) is complicated by the absence of an accurate reference test. We present a Bayesian latent class analysis in which we evaluated the accuracy of 5 diagnostic tests for CPTB. We used data from a study of 749 hospitalized South African children suspected to have CPTB from 2009 to 2014. The following tests were used: mycobacterial culture, smear microscopy, Xpert MTB/RIF (Cepheid Inc.), tuberculin skin test (TST), and chest radiography. We estimated the prevalence of CPTB to be 27% (95% credible interval (CrI): 21, 35). The sensitivities of culture, Xpert, and smear microscopy were estimated to be 60% (95% CrI: 46, 76), 49% (95% CrI: 38, 62), and 22% (95% CrI: 16, 30), respectively; specificities of these tests were estimated in accordance with prior information and were close to 100%. Chest radiography was estimated to have a sensitivity of 64% (95% CrI: 55, 73) and a specificity of 78% (95% CrI: 73, 83). Sensitivity of the TST was estimated to be 75% (95% CrI: 61, 84), and it decreased substantially among children who were malnourished and infected with human immunodeficiency virus (56%). The specificity of the TST was 69% (95% CrI: 63%, 76%). Furthermore, it was estimated that 46% (95% CrI: 42, 49) of CPTB-negative cases and 93% (95% CrI: 82; 98) of CPTB-positive cases received antituberculosis treatment, which indicates substantial overtreatment and limited undertreatment.
Diagnostic Test Accuracy in Childhood Pulmonary Tuberculosis: A Bayesian Latent Class Analysis.