Clinically refined epidemiology of nontuberculous mycobacterial pulmonary disease in South Korea: overestimation when relying only on diagnostic codes

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Abstract

Background: There have been reports of increases in the incidence and prevalence of nontuberculous mycobacterial pulmonary disease (NTM-PD) in several countries, but no studies have analyzed claims data using laboratory tests. This study aimed to estimate the nationwide epidemiology and medical treatments of NTM-PD according to laboratory tests run in Korea. Methods: Using claims data from the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, we analyzed patients with nontuberculous mycobacterium (ICD-10: A31) who were diagnosed from Jan 2007 to Jun 2019. The incidence and prevalence of NTM-PD and whether related laboratory tests were performed were analyzed. Diagnostic code-based NTM-PD patients were defined as patients who had NTM as a diagnosis on at least 2 occasions within 180 days. Clinically refined NTM-PD patients were defined as those excluding hospital-diagnosed patients with acid-fast bacilli (AFB) culture rates less than 5%. Laboratory tests included AFB smears, AFB culture, NTM identification, and drug susceptibility tests (DSTs). Results: A total of 60,071 diagnostic code-based NTM-PD patients were evaluated. Clinically refined NTM-PD included 45,321 patients, excluding 14,750 (24.6%) patients diagnosed in hospitals with low AFB culture rates. The annual incidence per 100,000 population increased from 2.9 cases in 2008 to 12.3 cases in 2018. The annual prevalence per 100,000 population increased from 5.3 cases in 2008 to 41.7 cases in 2018. After removing outliers according to the AFB culture rate, a significant decrease in incidence was observed in women younger than 50 years. Among patients with clinically refined NTM-PD, the test rates for AFB culture, NTM identification, and DST were 84.3%, 59.1%, and 40.4%, respectively. From the outpatient clinic, 17,977 (39.7%) patients were prescribed drugs related to NTM treatment, with a median number of prescriptions of 7 (interquartile range (IQR) 3–11) and a median duration from the diagnosis to end of treatment of 330 (IQR 118–578) days. Conclusions: Although the incidence and prevalence of NTM-PD are on the rise, the recent surge in women 50 years of age is overestimated in patients not adequately tested. In claim-based studies, there may be limitations in estimating the epidemiological data with only the diagnostic codes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number195
JournalBMC Pulmonary Medicine
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • Clinical laboratory test
  • Incidence
  • Insurance claim
  • Nontuberculous mycobacterial infections
  • Prevalence

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