Pancreatic Tuberculosis: Still a Histopathological Diagnosis

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Background:Pancreatic tuberculosis is usually unsuspected as it can present in various forms. Though an uncommon disease, once diagnosed it is potentially curable.Patients and Methods:Retrospective review of the records of 9 patients with histologically proven tuberculosis of the pancreas.Results:In none of the 9 patients was a preoperative diagnosis of tuberculosis possible. The diagnoses considered included: pancreatic cancer (n = 5); acute pseudocyst (n = 1); pancreatic abscess (n = 1); chronic pancreatitis with pancreatic head mass (n = 1), and carcinoma of the colon causing massive lower gastrointestinal bleeding (n = 1). All the patients underwent surgery. The diagnosis of tuberculosis was confirmed by histopathological examination of biopsy specimens obtained at the time of laparotomy. One patient died, the remaining patients received antitubercular therapy and are doing well at a median follow-up period of 26 months.Conclusion:In view of the nonspecific and variable clinical presentation and atypical radiological signs, a clinical diagnosis of pancreatic tuberculosis is usually not possible. Therefore there should be a high index of suspicion for this disease in young patients residing in endemic areas. Our experience highlights the importance of performing biopsy in apparently inoperable pancreatic mass lesions.

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