Author(s): Essop AR, Posen JA, Hodkinson JH, Segal I
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Abstract Hepatic tuberculosis was confirmed in 96 patients presenting with the features of liver disease, only 14 of whom had other concomitant hepatic pathology. Although respiratory symptoms occurred in 74 per cent of cases, these were overshadowed by the abdominal manifestations. The latter most frequently included right hypochondrial pain, abdominal distension, firm tender hepatomegaly, splenomegaly and ascites. Icterus was observed in 11 cases (only one of whom had concurrent hepatic pathology) and liver failure was found in 10 patients. A surgical presentation occurred in three patients. Four of 15 patients with pancytopenia were noted to have hypersplenism. Abnormalities in coagulation were noted in 26 patients (24 with low prothrombin index and two with moderately raised fibrinogen degradation products). The characteristic serum profile included hyponatraemia (64 per cent of cases), raised alkaline phosphatase (83 per cent) and gamma glutamyl transferase (77 per cent), hypoalbuminaemia (63 per cent) and hypergammaglobulinaemia (83 per cent). Transaminase levels were moderately elevated in 78 per cent of cases. Hepatic imaging techniques were frequently misleading. Chest radiographs aided the diagnosis but were normal in 25 per cent of cases. Histologically, acid fast bacilli, caseation and granulomas were seen in 9, 83 and 96 per cent of cases respectively. Adverse prognostic features included age (below 20 years), miliary TB, coagulation defects and the presence of predisposing factors; these were of value in selecting appropriate therapy. The overall mortality was 42 per cent. Liver biopsy was the most useful aid to correct diagnosis which was suspected clinically in only 47 per cent of cases.
This article was published in Q J Med
and referenced in Virology & Mycology