Accuracy and consequences of using trial-of-antibiotics for TB diagnosis (ACT-TB study): protocol for a randomised controlled clinical trial

Titus Henry Divala*, Katherine L. Fielding, Derek J. Sloan, Neil French, Marriott Nliwasa, Peter MacPherson, Chikondi Charity Kandulu, Lingstone Chiume, Sanderson Chilanga, Masiye John Ndaferankhande, Elizabeth L. Corbett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Introduction Over 40% of global tuberculosis case notifications are diagnosed clinically without mycobacteriological confirmation. Standard diagnostic algorithms include ‘trial-of-antibiotics’—empirical antibiotic treatment given to mycobacteriology-negative individuals to treat infectious causes of symptoms other than tuberculosis, as a ‘rule-out’ diagnostic test for tuberculosis. Potentially 26.5 million such antibiotic courses/year are prescribed globally for the 5.3 million/year mycobacteriology-negative patients, making trial-of-antibiotics the most common tuberculosis diagnostic, and a global-scale risk for antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Our systematic review found no randomised controlled trial (RCT) to support use of trial-of-antibiotic. The RCT aims to determine the diagnostic and clinical value and AMR consequences of trial-of-antibiotics.

Methods and analysis A three-arm, open-label, RCT randomising (1:1:1) Malawian adults (≥18 years) seeking primary care for cough into: (a) azithromycin 500 mg one time per day for 3 days or (b) amoxicillin 1 g three times per day for 5 days or (c) standard-of-care (no immediate antibiotic). We will perform mycobacteriology tests (microscopy, Xpert MTB/RIF (Mycobacterium tuberculosis/rifampicin) and Mycobacterium tuberculosis culture) at baseline. We will use audiocomputer-assisted self-interview to assess clinical improvement at day 8. First primary outcome will be proportion of patients reporting day 8 improvement out of those with negative mycobacteriology (specificity). Second primary outcome will be day 29 incidence of a composite endpoint of either death or hospitalisation or missed tuberculosis diagnosis. To determine AMR impact we compare proportion of resistant nasopharyngeal Streptococcus pneumoniae isolates on day 29. 400 mycobacteriology-negative participants/arm will be required to detect a ≥10% absolute difference in diagnostic specificity with 80% power. We will estimate measures of effect by comparing outcomes in antibiotic arms (combined and individually) to standard-of-care.

Ethics and dissemination The study has been reviewed and approved by Malawi College of Medicine Research and Ethics Committee, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) Research Ethics Committee and Regional Committee for Health and Research Ethics – Norway, and Malawi Pharmacy, Medicines and Poisons Board. We will present abstracts at relevant conferences, and prepare a manuscript for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere033999
Number of pages10
JournalBMJ Open
Volume10
Issue number3
Early online date25 Mar 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

Keywords

  • Antibiotics
  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Diagnostic performance
  • TB
  • Trial-of-antibiotics
  • Tuberculosis

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