Objective The currently recommended treatment for lymph node tuberculosis is 6 months of rifampicin and isoniazid plus pyrazinamide for the first 2 months, given either daily or thrice weekly. The objective of this study was to assess the efficacy of a 6-month twice-weekly regimen and a daily two-drug regimen.
Methods Patients with biopsy confirmed superficial lymph node tuberculosis were randomly allocated to receive either a daily self-administered 6-month regimen of rifampicin and isoniazid, or a twice-weekly, directly observed, 6-month regimen of rifampicin and isoniazid plus pyrazinamide for the first 2 months, in Madurai, South India, Patients were followed up for 36 months after completing treatment.
Results Of 277 enrolled patients, data was available for analysis in 268. At the end of treatment, 116 of 134 [87%; 95% confidence interval (CI) 81–93%] patients in each treatment group had a favourable clinical response; 14 (11%; 95% CI 6–16%) and 17 (13%; 95% CI 7–19%) patients had a doubtful response, and 4 (3%; 95% CI 0–6%) and 1 (1%; 95% CI 0–2%) patients had an unfavourable response among those treated with the daily and twice-weekly regimen, respectively. During 36 months after completion of treatment, five patients [2 (2%; 95% CI 1–3%) and 3 (2%; 95% CI 1–3%) patients treated with the daily and twice-weekly regimen, respectively] had relapse of lymph node tuberculosis, of 260 assessed. Adverse reactions probably attributable to the treatment regimens occurred in 1% of the patients treated daily and in 11% of those treated twice-weekly (P < 0.001). At the end of 36 months after treatment, 126 of 134 (94%; 95% CI 90–98%) and 129 of 134 (96%; 95% CI 94–98%) of the patients treated with the daily and twice-weekly regimen, respectively, had a successful outcome.
Conclusion Both the self-administered daily regimen and the fully observed twice-weekly regimen were highly efficacious for treating patients with lymph node tuberculosis and may be considered as alternative options to the recommended regimens.