Spinal tuberculosis: Diagnostic biopsy is mandatory

Ian Zondagh, Robert Dunn


With increasing tuberculosis incidence and clinicalload at peripheral hospitals, concomitant spinal lesions are presumed to be an extension of the tuberculous process. This assumption is dangerous and often incorrect as highlighted in the following three cases.

Atypical TB presentation is common (30%) but it is still mandatory that laboratory confirmation is made with biopsy of the spinal lesion to avoid incorrect treatment.

Three cases highlight incorrect diagnosis of spinal TB in patients with associated pulmonary TB and confirm that diagnostic biopsy of the spine is mandatory.

Authors' affiliations

Ian Zondagh, AOSpine Fellow, Groote Schuur Hospital

Robert Dunn, University of Cape Town

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tuberculosis, spine, diagnosis, biopsy

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2008;98(5):360.

Article History

Date submitted: 2007-11-23
Date published: 2008-05-14

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