Tuberculoma of the central nervous system.


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Abstract

Tuberculosis is among the oldest and most devastating infectious diseases worldwide. Nearly one third of the world's population has active or latent disease, resulting in 1.5 million deaths annually. Central nervous system involvement, while rare, is the most severe form of tuberculosis. Manifestations include tuberculoma and tuberculous meningitis, with the majority of cases occurring in children and immunocompromised patients. Despite advancements in imaging and laboratory diagnostics, tuberculomas of the central nervous system remain a diagnostic challenge due to their insidious nature and nonspecific findings. On imaging studies tuberculous meningitis is characterized by diffuse basal enhancement, but tuberculomas may be indistinguishable from neoplasms. Early diagnosis is imperative, since clinical outcomes are largely dependent on timely treatment. Stereotactic biopsy with histopathological analysis can provide a definitive diagnosis, but is only recommended when non-invasive methods are inconclusive. Standard medical treatment includes rifampicin, isoniazid, pyrazinamide, and streptomycin or ethambutol. In cases of drug resistance, revision of the treatment regimen with second-line agents is recommended over the addition of a single drug to the first-line regimen. Advances in genomics have identified virulent strains of tuberculosis and are improving our understanding of host susceptibility. Neurosurgical referral is advised for patients with elevated intracranial pressure, seizures, or brain or spinal cord compression. This review synthesizes pertinent findings in the literature surrounding central nervous system tuberculoma in an effort to highlight recent advances in pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment.

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