Mycobacterium tuberculosis of the elbow joint

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Mycobacterium tuberculosis(TB) affecting the elbow joint is rarely reported in the developed world. We present the case of an 85-year-old Caucasian female who complained of a chronically discharging and painful wound across her left elbow during her admission for an ischaemic stroke. This was initially deemed to be either a bursitis or local manifestation of amyloid by her general practitioner and dermatologist respectively prior to admission. She was commenced on flucloxacillin by the medical team for presumed cellulitis with minimal response. A synovial fluid sample and repeated wound swabs yielded no growth from routine bacterial culture. Radiological assessment together with knowledge of her husband having previous TB raised the possibility of TB arthritis. Synovial fluid aspirate was subsequently sent for acid-alcohol fast bacilli microscopy and mycobacterial culture that confirmed M. tuberculosis. She was consequently started on multidrug TB therapy, over a year after the onset of her symptoms.

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