Diagnostic issues in abdominal tuberculosis.

M. R. Khan, I. R. Khan, K. M. Pal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: To analyze the modes of presentation and diagnostic issues in the management of abdominal tuberculosis at a tertiary care hospital in a developing country, where most of the established diagnostic modalities are available. SETTING: The Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi. METHODS: This study is a retrospective review of medical records of all inpatients, diagnosed to have abdominal tuberculosis, from January 1991 to December 1997. The data was collected and particularly analyzed for spectrum of presentation and role of various diagnostic modalities. Of special interest was the sub-group of patients, who after all investigations did not have a firm diagnosis. Following a literature review recommendations have been developed for empiric antituberculous therapy in such patients. RESULTS: A total of 135 patients were diagnosed to have abdominal tuberculosis with a mean age of 34 years and a male to female ratio of 1:2. Ninety-six (71%) patients presented with chronic abdominal symptoms, while 39 (29%) presented as an acute surgical emergency mandating exploratory laparotomy. A tissue-based diagnosis was established in 95 (70.30%) patients, while radiological diagnosis was made in 30 (22.2%) patients. In 10 (7.4%) patients all investigations undertaken could not reveal a final diagnosis; these were treated empirically on the basis of a strong clinical suspicion. CONCLUSION: The diagnosis of abdominal tuberculosis can be made confidently in most of the cases. There may be a small group of patients where diagnosis cannot be made despite appropriate investigations and a therapeutic trial of ATT may be considered with close monitoring according to a pre-fixed protocol.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-142
Number of pages5
JournalJPMA. The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2001


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