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Basu S, Ganguly S, Chandra PK, Basu S
Correspondence: Dr Sriparna Basu, email@example.com
Introduction Diagnosis of tuberculosis among children poses technical and operational challenges, more so in abdominal tuberculosis (ATB), where the protean clinical manifestations continue to challenge the physicians in its diagnosis and therapy.
Methods Medical records of 115 patients who were diagnosed with ATB over a period of six years were studied retrospectively. Details of history, physical examination and investigations, treatment and outcome of therapy were evaluated.
Results The mean age of the patients was 6.4 years. Commonest symptom at presentation was abdominal pain, followed by fever. Nine patients presented with acute abdomen. Mantoux test was positive in 33 percent and accelerated BCG reaction was found in 36.5 percent. Evidence of primary focus was found in 40 percent of chest radiographs. Commonest ultrasonography and computed tomography findings were mesenteric thickening, followed by intra-abdominal lymphadenopathy. Tuberculous infection could be confirmed in 38 patients. The classical plastic variety was the commonest type of ATB found. A complete cure with antituberculous drugs was documented in over 90 percent of the patients.
Conclusion In high prevalence zones, ATB should be considered as a differential diagnosis in children presenting with non-specific constitutional symptoms and abdominal pain. When confirmatory tests are negative or not available, supportive investigations and clinical suspicion should be considered strongly for diagnosis of ATB to avoid delay in treatment. Response to therapy in such conditions indirectly confirms diagnosis. Timely use of laparoscopy and laparotomy may be required for confirmation of diagnosis.
Keywords: abdominal tuberculosis, gastro-intestinal infection, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, tuberculosis
Singapore Med J 2007; 48(10): 900-905