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Postgrad Med J. 2002 June; 78(920): 327–329.
PMCID: PMC1742390

Bacille Calmette-Guérin lymphadenitis


Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) lymphadenitis is the most common complication of BCG vaccination. Two forms of BCG lymphadenitis can be recognised in its natural course—simple or non-suppurative lymphadenitis, which usually regresses spontaneously over a period of few weeks, and suppurative BCG lymphadenitis distinguished by the development of fluctuations in the swelling, with erythema and oedema of overlying skin. Healing in suppurative glands occurs through spontaneous perforation and sinus formation, followed by closure of the sinus by cicatrisation. Non-suppurative BCG lymphadenitis is best managed with expectant follow ups only, because medical treatment with erythromycin or antituberculous drugs do not hasten the regression or prevent development of suppuration. Suppurative BCG lymphadenitis may be treated by needle aspiration to hasten resolution and prevent spontaneous perforation and sinus formation. Surgical excision is rarely needed and is meant for cases of failed needle aspiration or for draining BCG nodes.

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