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J Laryngol Otol. 2007 Apr;121(4):362-8. Epub 2006 Aug 21.

A clinical review of 128 cases of head and neck tuberculosis presenting over a 10-year period in Bradford, UK.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Bradford, UK.



To analyse the epidemiology, presentation and diagnosis of head and neck tuberculosis (TB).


We conducted a 10-year retrospective study of all cases of tuberculosis of the head and neck region occurring in Bradford, UK.


Of a total of 1315 cases of TB, 128 presented with head and neck TB (12 per cent of which (15/128) were in children). Cervical lymph nodes were most commonly involved (87 per cent, 111/128), other sites being: salivary glands (five cases); larynx, oral cavity, eyes and ears (two cases each); and skin, thyroid, nasopharynx and retropharyngeal space (one case each). Patients' ethnic origins were Asian (89 per cent, 114/128), Caucasian (10 per cent, 13/128) and African (one case). Only 26 per cent (33/128) had constitutional symptoms, and 20 per cent (25/128) had a coexistent site of TB. Only 39 per cent (40/105) of surgical specimens were sent for culture.


Isolated head and neck TB is not uncommon. Atypical presentations render diagnosis challenging, so awareness aids early diagnosis. Mycobacterial cultures should be performed, where possible, for diagnosis.

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