Use of polymerase chain reaction in diagnosis of occult tuberculosis of the fibula

Acta Orthop Belg. 2001 Dec;67(5):510-2.


An unusual case of tuberculosis of the lower end of the fibula in a young patient is reported. The patient presented with symptoms of pain and swelling over the outer aspect of the right ankle with full range of painless ankle movements. The plain radiographs of the ankle were normal but MRI scan showed increased signals within the lower end of the fibula on T2-weighted images. The histology of the lesion showed only a few Langhans giant cells and culture failed to grow any organism. Polymerase chain reaction analysis of the biopsy specimen, however, showed growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The patient responded to antitubercular treatment with complete resolution of symptoms. Polymerase chain reaction analysis should be considered in atypical presentations with bone pain to rule out an occult infectious pathology.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ankle Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Ankle Joint / pathology
  • Biopsy
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Fibula / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / pathogenicity
  • Pain / etiology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction*
  • Radiography
  • Tuberculosis, Osteoarticular / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis, Osteoarticular / genetics
  • Tuberculosis, Osteoarticular / pathology


  • DNA, Bacterial