World Journal of Surgery

, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 492–499 | Cite as

Abdominal Tuberculosis

  • Niall O. Aston

Abstract. Throughout the world tuberculosis is associated with poverty, deprivation, and human immunodeficiency virus infection. Abdominal tuberculosis is usually of insidious onset with diverse symptoms and signs. A few present with acute complications of perforation, obstruction, or bleeding. The diagnosis is difficult, especially in areas where the disease is less common, as many patients do not have evidence of pulmonary tuberculosis or a positive skin test. The main differential diagnosis ranges from Crohn’s disease in the young and advanced malignancy in the elderly. Delayed diagnosis is common, resulting in high mortality. Many investigations provide findings suggestive but not diagnostic of tuberculosis. With peritoneal tuberculosis, assay of ascitic fluid adenosine deaminase activity is a valuable, simple method of diagnosis that may reduce the need for laparoscopic biopsy. If the clinical suspicion of abdominal tuberculosis is high, a trial of medical treatment is appropriate. Surgery should be reserved for the complications of the disease. All patients require treatment with three antituberculous drugs over a 6-month course.


Human Immunodeficiency Virus Tuberculosis Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection Pulmonary Tuberculosis Ascitic Fluid 
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Copyright information

© Société Internationale de Chirugie 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Niall O. Aston
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Surgery, Greenwich District Hospital, Associated University Hospital, Vanbrugh Hill, Greenwich, London SE10 9HE, U.K.GB

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