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Postgrad Med J. Mar 1999; 75(881): 133–140.
PMCID: PMC1741157

Tuberculosis of the central nervous system


Tuberculous involvement of the brain and spinal cord are common neurological disorders in developing countries and have recently shown a resurgence in developed ones. Tuberculous meningitis is an important manifestation and is associated with high morbidity and mortality. Diagnosis is based on clinical features, cerebrospinal fluid changes, and imaging characteristics. Bacteriological confirmation is not possible in all cases as serological tests do not have sufficient sensitivity and specificity. The polymerase chain reaction shows promise for the future. Appropriate chemotherapeutic agents should be administered as early as possible, although there is no unanimity concerning chemotherapeutic regimens or optimal duration of treatment. The patient's clinical stage at presentation is the most important prognostic factor. The role of corticosteroids is controversial but they should be administered to all patients presenting in stage III. Surgical procedures are directed at management of the hydrocephalus. Focal lesions, intracranial tuberculomas, and tuberculous abscesses, are usually located in cerebral or cerebellar hemispheres, uncommonly in brainstem and very rarely in spinal cord. They do not usually require surgical intervention and respond well to antituberculous treatment, along with corticosteroids.

Keywords: tuberculosis; central nervous system

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Selected References

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