Background: To assess the relevance of serum C-reactive protein (CRP) in pulmonary tuberculosis and analyze the variation, in its levels with reference to the bacteriological load and extent of disease.
Settings: One hundred patients of pulmonary tuberculosis diagnosed at a tertiary center formed the subject group. Serum CRP estimation was done in all the patients, and its levels were assessed and graded according to the sputum smear status and radiological extent.
Results: C-reactive protein levels were found to be significantly higher in smear-positive group as compared with the smear-negative group, the values being 37.598 ± 23.195 and 5.40 ± 1.88 respectively (P < 0.0005). Among the smear-positive patients, CRP levels were highest in Smear3+ group (60.00 ± 15.69) as compared with the Smear2+ patients (35.83 ± 8.9) and Smear1+ (5 ± 7.86). Statistically, the difference was found to be significant (P < 0.0005). Correlation of CRP levels with extent of disease also revealed that these values were significantly higher in stage III disease (52.44 ± 17.78) as compared with stage II (13.19 ± 13.03) and stage I disease (9.5 ± 9.01).
Conclusions: Serum CRP levels may have a role in identifying the advanced and extensive disease patients thereby indirectly helping the health workers to pick up delayed convertors/potential defaulters, so as to guide them to put in extra efforts on these groups, in tuberculosis control programs.