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Abdominal tuberculosis in East Birmingham--a 16 year study.
  1. J. F. Sharp,
  2. M. Goldman
  1. Department of Surgery, East Birmingham Hospital, Bordesley Green East, UK.


    Abdominal tuberculosis, although rare, occurs mainly in immigrants from the Indian subcontinent. Such people comprise 13.5% of our local population and contributed 90% of a series of 72 patients presenting in the last 16 years; a local disease incidence of 1:6000 for Asian immigrants. Men and women were equally affected, but on average women were much younger. Diagnosis was made from one month to 10 years after immigration. No clinical feature was diagnostic, but abdominal pain, night sweats and weight loss occurred in more than half the patients. The erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) was elevated in 95% and no patient tested had a negative Mantoux test. In 20 patients diagnosis was by clinical suspicion and response to therapeutic trial. In 52, including 39 who had a laparotomy, histological and culture material was obtained but these patients fared no better. Only one organism was resistant (to streptomycin) and rapid response to chemotherapy was the rule. Successful outcome was not related to the type of presentation, operative findings or specific chemotherapeutic agents. We would suggest that in Asians presenting with difficult-to-diagnose abdominal symptoms accompanied by malaise, raised ESR and a positive Mantoux test, a therapeutic trial of anti-tuberculous therapy should precede diagnostic laparotomy.

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