The chest X-ray represents the final step in tuberculosis (TB) testing. Prior to receiving an X-ray, an individual must test positive for TB via a PPD skin test or QuantiFERON (QFT) test. The CDC states that a positive test for TB infection only tells that a person has been infected with TB germs. It does not indicate whether they have progressed to TB disease.
The chest X-ray ultimately determines whether active tuberculosis is present in an individual.
In most cases, employees with positive tuberculosis test results will not be able to return to work until they have been cleared by a chest X-ray. That’s because the X-ray demonstrates they do not have active tuberculosis. Employees with a positive tuberculosis test result should be scheduled for their X-ray as soon as possible after receiving those results.
This simple procedure consists of several X-rays taken of the chest from multiple angles. A clinician then reviews the results to determine if the lungs show signs of advanced pulmonary tuberculosis (APT). APT represents the most active and contagious form of tuberculosis. The X-ray provides suitable evidence an employee is tuberculosis-free, even if initial PPD skin tests or QuantiFERON blood draws have said otherwise.