A screening chest radiograph can be done. Though a normal radiograph does not exclude tuberculosis, there is a much lower likelihood of having tuberculosis disease (active TB) of the lung if the radiograph is normal.
Besides an abnormal chest radiograph that may suggest tuberculosis disease (active TB) of the lung, sputum tests need to be done to confirm this. These specimens are specially stained and examined under the microscope for the tuberculosis bacteria. The specimens are also cultured to look for growth of the tuberculosis bacteria, and these results can take up to 2 months before they are ready. In some cases, both the initial examination under the microscope and the cultures are negative for the tuberculosis bacteria, but the patient responds to treatment with medicines for tuberculosis with resolution of symptoms and improvement in serial chest radiographs.
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