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Epidemiological Insights from 1,652 Patients with Spinal Tuberculosis Managed at a Single Center: A Retrospective Review of 5-Year Data.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective cohort.

PURPOSE: To report the demographic characteristics, clinico-radiological presentation, laboratory findings, and outcomes of "middlepath" treatment in patients with spinal tuberculosis from a single public healthcare facility in a developing country.

OVERVIEW OF LITERATURE: Tuberculosis is a global health problem that is endemic in developing countries and undergoing resurgence in developed ones. Spinal tuberculosis can cause disabling back pain, progressive deformity, and neurological involvement. However, there is a lack of large-scale epidemiological studies quantifying the size and severity of the problem of spinal tuberculosis.

METHODS: Hospital records of spinal tuberculosis patients treated at a single center over a period of 5 years were retrospectively reviewed. A diagnosis of spinal tuberculosis was based on standard clinical, radiological, microbiological, and histopathological evidence. Patients were treated in accordance with the "middle-path" regimen; surgery was reserved for selective indications.

RESULTS: A total of 1,652 patients were included. Their median age was 32.4 years, with 53% being male. Axial pain (98%) was the most common presenting symptom; 19% of patients had neurological deficit. Lumbar spine (37%) was the most common site of involvement, with a paradiscal pattern (82%) of involvement predominating. Multi-level involvement was seen in 19% of patients; skip lesions were noted in 2.8%. Transpedicular biopsy was performed in 667 patients; at least one tissue test was diagnostic of tuberculosis in 65% of patients. Forty-four patients had drug resistance to rifampicin. Surgery was required in 10.5% of patients. The "middle-path" regimen was associated with high compliance and significant improvements in pain (Visual Analog Scale score) and function (36-Item Short Form Health Survey).

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings confirm the widespread prevalence of spinal tuberculosis and describe various epidemiological characteristics of a large sample of spinal tuberculosis patients. Adoption of the "middle-path" regimen is associated with high compliance and favorable outcomes in spinal tuberculosis.

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