Surgery for Central Nervous System Tuberculosis in Children

Adv Tech Stand Neurosurg. 2024:49:255-289. doi: 10.1007/978-3-031-42398-7_12.


Tuberculosis (TB) is the second most common cause of death due to a single infectious agent worldwide after COVID-19. Central nervous system tuberculosis is widely prevalent in the world, especially in the developing countries and continues to be a socioeconomic problem. It is highly devastating form of tuberculosis leading to unacceptable levels of morbidity and mortality despite appropriate antitubercular therapy. The clinical symptoms are varied and nonspecific. They can be easily overlooked. Tuberculous meningitis is the most common presentation and its sequelae viz. vasculitis, infarction and hydrocephalus can be devastating. The ensuing cognitive, intellectual, and endocrinological outcome can be a significant source of morbidity and mortality, especially in resource constrained countries. Early diagnosis and treatment of tuberculous meningitis and institution of treatment is helpful in limiting the course of disease process. The diagnosis of CNS tuberculosis remains a formidable diagnostic challenge. The microbiological methods alone cannot be relied upon. CSF diversion procedures need to be performed at the appropriate time in order to achieve good outcomes. Tuberculous pachymeningitis and arachnoiditis are morbid sequelae of tuberculous meningitis. Tuberculomas present as mass lesions in the craniospinal axis. Tuberculous abscess can mimic pyogenic abscess and requires high index of suspicion. Calvarial tuberculosis is seen in children and responds well to antituberculous chemotherapy. Tuberculosis of the spinal cord is seen similar to intracranial tuberculosis in pathogenesis but with its own unique clinical manifestations and management. Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis is a formidable problem, and alternate chemotherapy should be promptly instituted. The pathogenesis, clinical features, diagnosis, and management of central nervous system tuberculosis in children are summarized. Heightened clinical suspicion is paramount to ensure prompt investigation. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to a gratifying outcome and prevent complications.

Keywords: Central nervous system; Children; Pediatric; Surgery; Tuberculosis.

MeSH terms

  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Neurosurgical Procedures
  • Tuberculosis, Central Nervous System* / diagnosis
  • Tuberculosis, Central Nervous System* / therapy
  • Tuberculosis, Meningeal / diagnosis
  • Tuberculosis, Meningeal / drug therapy


  • Antitubercular Agents