Background and study aims: Colonic tuberculosis is not uncommon in developing countries. As emigration to the West increases, it is worthwhile to recall the clinical, colonoscopic, and histopathological features of this condition.
Patients and methods: The clinical, colonoscopic and histopathological findings were evaluated in 43 patients with colonic tuberculosis.
Results: Abdominal pain, weight loss, diarrhea, fever, and a lump in the abdomen were the commonest symptoms. Extraintestinal tuberculosis was present in 11 patients (26 %). Colonoscopy revealed ulcers in 30 patients (70 %), nodules in 24 (56 %), a deformed cecum and ileocecal valve in 17 (40 %), strictures in 10 (23 %), polypoid lesions in six (14 %), and fibrous bands forming mucosal bridges in three (7 %). The cecum and ascending colon were the commonest sites involved. Segmental tuberculosis was seen in six of the 32 patients (19 %) in whom full-length colonoscopy could be performed. Two or more sites were involved in 19 patients (44 %). Histopathology revealed well-formed granulomas in 23 patients (54 %). Fourteen of the above patients (61 %) had caseation and 11 (48 %) had confluence of the granulomas. Acid-fast bacilli were present in the biopsies from two patients (5 %). Ill-formed granulomas were seen in seven patients (16 %) and chronic inflammatory changes in 13 (30 %). Despite the various histopathological findings, all of the patients responded to antitubercular treatment and continued to remain asymptomatic during the follow-up period.
Conclusions: Colonoscopy with biopsy is a useful method for diagnosing colonic tuberculosis. Even in the absence of the classic histopathological features, a therapeutic trial may be indicated in a given clinical and colonoscopic setting. Follow-up is essential.