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  Diagnosis of TB

 Gastric Washing

Some patients with tuberculosis do not raise any sputum but instead swallow small amounts of sputum. In a gastric lavage, the stomach was pumped and the contents examined for tubercle bacilli. In this way a "positive sputum" was established which might otherwise be missing. The test consisted of introducing a small, smooth rubber tube into the stomach either by swallowing or by gently inserting it in one nostril, and swallowing as it passed the back of the throat. As soon as sufficient length of tube is inserted to reach the contents of the stomach, a syringe was attached to the free end of the tube and the contents withdrawn and put in a bottle. Then a cup or more of warm saline was syringed back into the stomach to ’wash’ it and is again aspirated out. This washing may have been repeated several times until a sufficient sample had been obtained. Then the tube was withdrawn and the patient’s part in the gastric lavage was completed. In all, it did not take more than twenty minutes and there were usually no after effects. If you were working, you could then have your breakfast and go back to work. The technician, having secured a specimen of sputum, now had to prove whether or not it contains germs of tuberculosis.

 Skin Test
 Mass Surveys
 Sputum Test
 Gastric Washing
 Laboratory Tests

It was sometimes necessary to repeat gastric washings at intervals to follow the course of treatment and improvement. A patient whose TB infection was decreasing would show better results after successive gastric washings.