JOURNAL ARTICLE

Peripheral tuberculous lymphadenitis: epidemiology, diagnosis, treatment, and outcome

Andrea Polesky, William Grove, Gulshan Bhatia
Medicine (Baltimore) 2005, 84 (6): 350-62
16267410
We reviewed 106 patients referred to our institution for treatment of peripheral tuberculous adenitis to establish the epidemiologic, clinical, and pathologic manifestations of this disease. Tuberculous lymphadenitis occurred predominantly in young, foreign-born women a mean of 5 years after arrival in the United States. Tuberculin skin tests were positive in 94% of cases. Lymphadenopathy occurred most frequently in the neck (57%) or supraclavicular area (26%) and involved 1-3 nodes. Forty (38%) patients had an abnormal chest radiograph consistent with granulomatous infection. Culture-positive pulmonary tuberculosis was diagnosed in 41% of those patients with abnormal chest radiographs. Fine needle aspiration was an essential step in the evaluation and diagnosis of tuberculous lymphadenitis. Granulomas were seen in 61% of fine needle aspirates and 88% of surgical biopsies. Positive cultures for Mycobacterium tuberculosis were obtained from 62% of fine needle aspirate samples and 71% of excisional biopsies. The presence of necrosis and/or neutrophilic inflammation in tissue samples correlated with culture positivity. Given the high yield of positive cultures from fine needle aspirates, surgery was rarely indicated as an initial step in immunocompetent adults. In this cohort, 101 patients received a final diagnosis of peripheral tuberculous lymphadenitis. Eighty-two percent received their entire therapy under direct observation, and response to antituberculous therapy was uniformly successful. Paradoxical expansion of adenopathy was seen in 20% of all patients and was more commonly noted in human immunodeficiency virus-seropositive patients. We present a diagnostic algorithm based on our experience.

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