PCR–POSITIVE TUBERCULAR RETINAL VASCULITIS: Clinical Characteristics and Management

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Abstract

Background

Inflammation of retinal vessels is a known association of systemic tuberculosis. Patients with retinal vasculitis are subjected to extensive but unrewarding systemic workup. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is now commonly used to detect DNA of infective organisms including Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This study was undertaken to characterize the clinical characteristics of PCR-positive tubercular retinal vasculitis, so as to determine the clinical presentation, associated systemic features, management, and course of this form of vasculitis.

Methods

The clinical records of 13 patients seen between 1997 and 1999 with the diagnosis of PCR-positive tubercular retinal vasculitis from the aqueous or vitreous humor were reviewed. Recorded data included age, sex, race, visual acuity, anterior and posterior segment findings, and results of diagnostic evaluations. All received antituberculosis therapy with or without concomitant corticosteroids. Laser scatter photocoagulation was done in eyes with neovascularization. One eye with vitreous hemorrhage was subjected to pars plana vitrectomy.

Results

There were 9 (69.2%) male and 4 (30.7%) female patients with a median age of 20 years. The disease was bilateral in seven. The most consistent finding was the presence of vitritis in all the eyes followed by vitreous snowball opacities in 17 eyes (89.4%), neovascularization in 11 eyes (57.8%), retinal hemorrhages in 10 eyes (52.6%), neuroretinitis in 10 eyes (52.6%), focal choroiditis in 9 eyes (47.3%), vitreous/preretinal hemorrhage in 5 eyes (26.3%), and serous retinal detachment in 3 eyes (15.7%). Over a median follow-up of 12 months, all showed resolution of vasculitis with no recurrences.

Conclusions

Polymerase chain reaction–positive tubercular retinal vasculitis had varied associated fundus findings. Its recognition is important so as to order only relevant diagnostic tests.

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