Tuberculosis--the great mimicker

Semin Ultrasound CT MR. 2014 Jun;35(3):195-214. doi: 10.1053/j.sult.2014.02.002. Epub 2014 Feb 12.


Tuberculosis is an immense health problem in the developing world, and it remains a health care challenge in the developed world. It can affect virtually any organ system in the body. Diagnosis of tuberculosis is often difficult. Many patients with tuberculosis present with nonspecific symptoms, negative purified protein derivative skin test result, and negative findings on culture specimens. Cross-sectional imaging with ultrasound, multidetector computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging plays an important role in the diagnosis of tuberculosis. Tuberculosis demonstrates a variety of radiologic features depending on the organ involved and can mimic a number of other disease entities. Cross-sectional imaging alone is insufficient in reaching a conclusive diagnosis. Tuberculosis is a great mimicker as its radiologic manifestations can simulate numerous other diseases across the body systems. However, recognition and understanding of the common and uncommon radiologic manifestations of tuberculosis should alert considering tuberculosis in the high-risk population and correct clinical setting to enable appropriate treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic Errors / prevention & control*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Tuberculosis / classification*
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis*
  • Young Adult