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Am J Otolaryngol. 2006 Jan-Feb;27(1):39-45.

Tuberculosis in ear, nose, and throat practice: its presentation and diagnosis.

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  • 1Department of ENT, BARC Hospital, Anushakti Nagar, Mumbai, India.



The aim of this study was to increase awareness of the different presentations of head and neck tuberculosis (TB) and to discuss its diagnostic difficulties.


A retrospective analysis of patients who presented to us, at a secondary referral hospital, primarily with TB of head and neck was done from January 1999 to July 2003.


A total of 117 patients presented with primary head and neck TB during the study period. Most of these (95%) had cervical lymphadenopathy, 2 patients had laryngeal TB, and there was 1 patient each of TB of cervical spine, oropharynx, ear, and retropharyngeal abscess. Forty-one were males, and 76 were females. Thirty percent of cases had associated lung or other organ TB. Nine percent gave history of previous or subsequent TB.


1) Diagnosing TB requires a high index of suspicion. 2) Tuberculosis of the cervical lymph nodes is the commonest presentation followed by laryngeal TB. 3) Fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) is a reliable and easy way to diagnose TB. However, newer diagnostic tests will increase the yield of positive cases and should be used whenever required. 4) In the larynx, the vocal cords were the commonest site affected and laryngeal TB need not be associated with lung TB or positive sputum always. 5) Patients who have TB of head and neck must be investigated to exclude pulmonary or systemic TB. 6) In cases of previous or subsequent TB infection, culture and drug sensitivity is indicated to reduce the problem of multiple drug resistance.

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