Computerized tomography findings of abdominal tuberculosis: Report of 19 cases

Rivka Zissin, Gabriela Gayer, Michal Chowers, Myra Shapiro-Feinberg, Eugen Kots, Marjorie Hertz

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33 Scopus citations


Background: Abdominal tuberculosis usually presents with general symptoms and obscure abdominal complaints for which computerized tomography is often the first imaging study. Objective: To evaluate the CT findings of abdominal tuberculosis. Methods: The CT scans of 19 patients (10 men and 9 women aged 20-85 years) with proven abdominal tuberculosis were retrospectively reviewed to define the location and extent of the disease. The patients were referred for the study mainly with general systemic symptoms. Additional abdominal complaints were present in four, including acute abdomen in one. Two had symptoms deriving from the urinary tract. Nine patients had recently arrived from high prevalence countries; five of them and two others were positive for human immunodeficiency virus. Three patients had a family history of tuberculosis; one had previously been treated for tuberculosis and four others had an underlying chronic disease. The diagnosis of tuberculosis was established by standard microbiological and histological techniques. Results: We divided the disease manifestations into intraperitoneal (n = 13) and genitourinary involvement (n = 6). Peritoneal tuberculosis was fairly common, characterized by ascites, omental and mesenteric infiltration, and smooth thickening of the parietal peritoneum. One oncology patient had a false positive Tc-99m CEA isotope scanning, suggesting tumor recurrence. Genitourinary disease manifested mainly as hydronephrosis and calcifications. Three patients had pulmonary tuberculosis as well. Conclusions: The CT findings of abdominal tuberculosis may mimic various diseases, mainly diffuse peritoneal malignancy. We emphasize the need to consider tuberculosis in the differential diagnosis in patients with obscure abdominal symptoms, especially with multi-organ involvement. A high degree of clinical suspicion and familiarity with the abdominal CT manifestations allow early diagnosis of this treatable disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-418
Number of pages5
JournalIsrael Medical Association Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Abdominal tuberculosis
  • Computerized tomography
  • Genitourinary tuberculosis
  • Peritoneum
  • Tuberculosis


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