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Abdominal Tuberculosis: Causes, Symptoms. Treatment, Diagnosis

What is Abdominal Tuberculosis?

Abdominal Tuberculosis is a form of tuberculosis which affects the gastrointestinal system of the body. Specifically, it affects the peritoneum, the abdominal lymph nodes, and in some rare cases the kidney, liver, and the pancreas. Abdominal Tuberculosis tends to affect both adults and children alike and may result in potentially life threatening complications like rupture of the bowel which in some cases may prove even fatal for the individual.

The root cause of Abdominal Tuberculosis is believed to be ingestion of unpasteurized cow milk which may contain the germs of tuberculosis resulting in development of Abdominal Tuberculosis. In some cases, tuberculosis from the lungs can spread to the abdominal area causing Abdominal Tuberculosis. Unintentional loss of weight and persistent abdominal pain along with abdominal distention are some of the common symptoms of Abdominal Tuberculosis.

Abdominal Tuberculosis

What Causes Abdominal Tuberculosis?

As stated above, consumption of unpasteurized cow milk containing the tuberculosis germ is the root cause for Abdominal Tuberculosis. This condition can also occur by spreading of the tuberculosis bacillus from the lungs to the intestines via the blood.

In most of the cases of Abdominal Tuberculosis in children, the digestive system is involved while in the remaining cases there is involvement of the peritoneum. The involvement of the lymph gland of the abdomen is quite rare in Abdominal Tuberculosis.

What are the Symptoms of Abdominal Tuberculosis?

The symptoms of Abdominal Tuberculosis are quite variable but some of the common symptoms that an individual experiences with Abdominal Tuberculosis are persistent abdominal pain, unintentional loss of weight, anorexia, frequent episodes of diarrhea, low grade fever in some cases, and abdominal distention. On examination, there may be a feeling of a lump in the abdomen as well as a result of Abdominal Tuberculosis.

How is Abdominal Tuberculosis Diagnosed?

Endoscopy and biopsy are the front line mechanisms for confirming the diagnosis of Abdominal Tuberculosis. By utilizing these methods, the tuberculosis germ can be isolated from the digestive system and confirm the diagnosis of Abdominal Tuberculosis.

Imaging studies like abdominal x-rays and an ultrasound and CT scan of the abdomen may also be done to look for changes in the abdominal area that may be caused by the tuberculosis germ and thus confirm the diagnosis of Abdominal Tuberculosis.

How is Abdominal Tuberculosis Treated?

Treatment of Abdominal Tuberculosis is quite complex and the course of treatment is normally for about a year. For the first three months post diagnosis which is also called as the intensification phase, the patient will be treated with anti-tuberculosis medications like Isoniazid, Rifampicin, and Pyrazinamide.

Once the intensification phase is treated then the continuation phase of the treatment is started and the drugs of choice during this phase of treatment is Isoniazid and Rifampicin. This form of treatment is continued for the next 10-12 months till the patient is completely clear of the tuberculosis germ and is full treated from Abdominal Tuberculosis.

In some cases, where complications of Abdominal Tuberculosis occur such as abdominal perforation or if there is development of an abscess of a fistula then surgical correction along with medication therapy will be required to treat Abdominal Tuberculosis. This usually occurs when Abdominal Tuberculosis is left untreated. The complications arising from this condition is a medical emergency and immediate treatment is required for treatment of complications of Abdominal Tuberculosis.


  1. “Abdominal Tuberculosis” by Dr. M. Pradhan, Medscape. Available at: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/212053-overview
  2. “Gastrointestinal tuberculosis” by Dr. Vikram Kate, World Journal of Gastroenterology. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4205587/
  3. “Abdominal tuberculosis: Diagnosis and treatment” by Dr. Alvaro Ruibal, World Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4286571/
  4. “Abdominal Tuberculosis: A Comprehensive Review” by Dr. Neel Sharma et al., Journal of Clinical Tuberculosis and Other Mycobacterial Diseases. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2405579420300441
  5. “Abdominal Tuberculosis” by Dr. Vinod Kumar Sharma et al., Journal of Global Infectious Diseases. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3119773/
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 17, 2023

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