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Relapse in ocular tuberculosis: relapse rate, risk factors and clinical management in a non-endemic country.

AIMS: To assess the risk of uveitis relapse in ocular tuberculosis (OTB) following clinical inactivity, to analyse clinical factors associated with relapses and to describe the management strategies for relapses.

METHODS: A retrospective study was conducted on a 10-year patient registry of patients with OTB diagnosed at Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Time-to-relapse of uveitis was evaluated with Kaplan-Meier curve and risk factors for relapses were analysed.

RESULTS: 93 OTB cases were identified, of which 75 patients achieved clinical inactivity following treatment. The median time to achieve uveitis inactivity was 3.97 months. During a median follow-up of 20.7 months (Q1-Q3: 5.2-81.2) after clinical inactivity, uveitis relapse occurred in 25 of these 75 patients (33.3%). Patients who were considered poor treatment responders for their initial uveitis episode had a significantly higher risk of relapse after achieving clinical inactivity than good responders (adjusted HR=3.84, 95% CI: 1.28 to 11.51). 13 of the 25 relapsed patients experienced multiple uveitis relapse episodes, accounting for 78 eye-relapse episodes during the entire observation period. Over half (46 out of 78, 59.0%) of these episodes were anterior uveitis. A significant number of uveitis relapse episodes (31 episodes, 39.7%) were effectively managed with topical corticosteroids.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that approximately one-third of patients with OTB will experience relapse after achieving clinical inactivity. The initial disease course and poor response to treatment predict the likelihood of relapse in the long-term follow-up. Topical corticosteroids were particularly effective in relapse presenting as anterior uveitis.

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