Abdominal tuberculosis

World J Surg. 1997 Jun;21(5):492-9. doi: 10.1007/pl00012275.


Throughout the world tuberculosis is associated with poverty, deprivation, and human immunodeficiency virus infection. Abdominal tuberculosis is usually of insidious onset with diverse symptoms and signs. A few present with acute complications of perforation, obstruction, or bleeding. The diagnosis is difficult, especially in areas where the disease is less common, as many patients do not have evidence of pulmonary tuberculosis or a positive skin test. The main differential diagnosis ranges from Crohn's disease in the young and advanced malignancy in the elderly. Delayed diagnosis is common, resulting in high mortality. Many investigations provide findings suggestive but not diagnostic of tuberculosis. With peritoneal tuberculosis, assay of ascitic fluid adenosine deaminase activity is a valuable, simple method of diagnosis that may reduce the need for laparoscopic biopsy. If the clinical suspicion of abdominal tuberculosis is high, a trial of medical treatment is appropriate. Surgery should be reserved for the complications of the disease. All patients require treatment with three antituberculous drugs over a 6-month course.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / complications
  • Adult
  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative / methods
  • Tuberculosis, Gastrointestinal / complications
  • Tuberculosis, Gastrointestinal / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis, Gastrointestinal / therapy*
  • United Kingdom


  • Antitubercular Agents