Imaging of extraspinal musculoskeletal tuberculosis

Eur J Radiol. 2006 Jan;57(1):119-30. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2005.07.005. Epub 2005 Aug 31.


Tuberculosis (TB) is still a major cause of significant morbidity and mortality despite universal availability of effective chemotherapy. The emergence of multidrug-resistant mycobacteria along with a worldwide increase in HIV infection has led to a recent surge in the number of patients with TB. TB involves both pulmonary and extrapulmonary sites. Tuberculous spondylitis is the most common form of musculoskeletal TB and accounts for approximately 50% of cases. Extraspinal musculoskeletal TB is among the least common manifestations of TB. It shows a predilection for joints and para-articular areas while isolated soft tissue TB occurs extremely rare. A non-specific, often indolent clinical presentation in conjunction with its low prevalence constitutes obstacles for diagnosis. The differential diagnosis of extraspinal musculoskeletal TB consists of degenerative processes, inflammatory and infectious conditions, primary neoplasms, and metastatic lesions. Early diagnosis and treatment is of utmost importance to prevent serious joint and bone destruction. Radiological assessment of patients with musculoskeletal TB is often the key to adequate diagnosis and early treatment. The purpose of this manuscript is to review the imaging features of extraspinal musculoskeletal TB and to focus on the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) characteristics of this pathology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / microbiology*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Tuberculosis, Osteoarticular / diagnosis*