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J R Soc Med. 1986 March; 79(3): 149–153.
PMCID: PMC1290233

Abdominal tuberculosis: still a problem today.


Thirty cases of abdominal tuberculosis were diagnosed over an 18-year period, 26 being in immigrants; the mean age at presentation was 33 years. There were 25 cases of tuberculous peritonitis, two of tuberculous mesenteric lymphadenitis, and one each of gastric tuberculosis, colonic tuberculosis and tuberculous ischiorectal abscess. The presenting symptoms were of vague ill-health and not diagnostic, and the most common findings were of pyrexia, abdominal tenderness and ascites. The most common haematological abnormalities were raised ESR (22 patients) and mild anaemia (15 patients). Most commonly, diagnosis was made by formal laparotomy (19 cases) with biopsy (18 cases); histological examination gave a positive diagnosis in all 18 cases, but bacteriological examination yielded the tubercle bacillus in only 10 (56%). There were 2 deaths in the series, not directly related to the abdominal tuberculosis. In view of its infrequent and vague presentation, care is required to avoid overlooking the diagnosis of abdominal tuberculosis, particularly in the immigrant population.

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Selected References

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