Tuberculosis Testing (PPD)

Brentview Medical Clinic offers tuberculosis skin tests (also known as the tuberculin test or PPD test) to determine if a  patient has been exposed to the bacteria that cause tuberculosis (TB). A positive test can occur if someone currently has TB, if they were exposed to it in the past, or if they received the BCG vaccine against tuberculosis. The BCG vaccine is not performed in the United States. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 2 billion people worldwide have latent TB, while around 3 million people worldwide die of TB each year.

The PPD test is performed by the medical assistants at Brentview Medical. A few drops of the TB extract are injected under the skin of the forearm. The injection is done with a fine needle and there is little to no pain with the injection. You will need to return to the clinic in 48 hours for the test to be read. If negative, there will be no response and your skin will look normal. If positive, the area of the injection will turn red and hard. The width of the area that is hard and red determines whether the test is positive or not.

An incubation period of 2 to 12 weeks is usually needed after exposure to the tuberculosis bacteria in order for the PPD test to become positive. PPD tests are often required as part of pre-employment exams, school physicals, and annual exams required by employers.

If your PPD test is positive, a 2 view chest x ray is required to be done and your physician will discuss if treating the TB infection with medicine is an option.

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