Procedure, Preparation & Results of a Tuberculin Tine Test

Submitted by Medical Health Test Team on November 12, 2012

This is a special test that is used to check if someone has contracted or come on touch with the tuberculosis bacteria.


Tuberculin Tine test is done with a small spiked instrument. The instrument is used to inject a tiny amount of tuberculosis antigen just below the skin. The test is generally done on the arm. The area where the antigen is injected is marked with an ink pen to later check for swelling and redness after a few days. There is another test known as tuberculin skin test, which is supposed to be more accurate than this one.


The person being tested does not have to do any special preparation for this test. If someone has a skin problem or dermatitis, then they will be tested at a different part of the body. You might feel a stinging sensation when the antigen is injected with the instrument. Later on, the area may burn or itch.

This test is done to check if the person has been exposed to tuberculosis. If a person has been exposed to the disease, then the immune system of the body produces antibodies to combat the disease. So, when the test is done, a person who has the antibodies to TB will test positive - get a positive test result.

Interpretation of Test Results

If you get a negative result in the test then your arm might be slightly red, but you won’t have inflammation or swelling. And this means that you haven’t been exposed to the tuberculosis bacteria.

If you have been exposed to the bacteria and the disease, then the area where the antigen was injected will swell up like a mosquito bite within a couple of days. When that happens, the result is considered positive. And it means that the immune system of your body has been able to detect the antigen that was injected. However, a positive result does not mean that you have tuberculosis. It just means that you have been exposed to the disease. If you get a positive result, you’ll be further tested to see if you have contracted TB. A chest x-ray is generally done to check this.

If you have been exposed to the disease once, all the tuberculin tine tests that you do in future will be positive. You will also be advised to get a tuberculin skin test done.

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