Background. Hemodialysis (HD) patients are susceptible to atypical tuberculosis (TB), especially among patients presenting with fever of unknown origin (FUO), because of their impaired cellular immunity. Diagnostic trials of anti-TB drugs are therefore recommended in some TB endemic countries, including Japan, though clinical evidence for this therapy is scarce. Methods. We prospectively collected data for incident cases of clinical FUO for two years in 78 of 169 dialysis facilities in Aichi prefecture, located in central Japan. Clinical FUO was defined as sustained fever without any localizing signs and no infiltration on chest x-rays after a one-week antibiotic trial. The baseline characteristics, subsequent body temperatures on the days of HD therapy, and names of antibiotics including anti-TB drugs with the durations of medication were reported until fever alleviation or fever sustainment for over eight weeks. Results. We identified 15 newly developed clinical FUO patients among 8,125 HD patients. The incidence rate was estimated to be 92 (95% CI, 26-158) per 100,000 person-years. This corresponds to 244 cases per year among 264,473 HD patients in Japan. Anti-TB drugs were secondarily prescribed in 8 of 15 clinical FUO patients (53%). No improved fever alleviation was observed when anti-TB drugs were secondarily prescribed compared with cases in which other antibiotics were preferred. Conclusion. We investigated the incidence of FUO in HD patients and found that the rate was not very high, whereas anti-TB drugs were frequently used for FUO cases. The efficacy of this diagnostic therapy should be elucidated in large-scale studies.
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