Tuberculosis in children: new forms of diagnosis


  • Marina Pinheiro Pediatric Service of Unidade Local de Saúde do Alto Minho
  • Ana Rita Araújo Pediatric Service of Unidade Local de Saúde do Alto Minho
  • Margarida Guedes Pediatric Service of Centro Materno Infantil do Norte, Centro Hospitalar do Porto



Tuberculosis in children, Tuberculin skin test, QuantiFERON®-TB Gold In-tube, T-SPOT®.TB, Interferon Gamma Release Assay


Introduction: Tuberculosis is still a serious public health problem. To decrease the number of cases of active tuberculosis in populations of low and intermediate incidence, a rapid diagnosis and effective treatment is necessary. The tuberculin test is the recommended method of screening, but there are well-known limitations. Since 2001, the interferon gamma release assays have emerged, being considered useful in the diagnosis of latent infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis and already widely used in adults.

Objectives: Summarize the available information on interferon gamma release assays, particularly with regard to the technique; advantages in the diagnosis of latent infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis; sensitivity and specificity in the pediatric population; characterization of interfering factors; and their significance of monitoring of tuberculostatic treatment.

Development: Interferon gamma release assays are immunoassays that measure Interferon Gamma Release Assays response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigens. These tests have been applied in paediatrics population and in regions with different prevalence rates of tuberculosis, in order to compare them with the tuberculin skin test in regard to sensitivity and specificity.

Conclusions: Its usefulness as a means of screening in Paediatrics has limitations. Studies are needed at national level to identify how tuberculin skin test and interferon gamma release assays must be articulated. Currently, interferon gamma release assays only complement tuberculin skin test.


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How to Cite

Pinheiro M, Araújo AR, Guedes M. Tuberculosis in children: new forms of diagnosis. REVNEC [Internet]. 2015Dec.15 [cited 2024Mar.5];24(4):160-5. Available from:



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