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Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 1997 Apr;1(2):152-8.

Short-course chemotherapy in the treatment of Pott's paraplegia: report on five year follow-up.

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  • 1Tuberculosis Research Centre, Madras, Tamil Nadu, India.



To assess the efficacy of 9-month short-course chemotherapy (SCC) and to study the pattern of neurological recovery in patients with Pott's paraplegia.


Patients with recent onset of spastic paraplegia due to clinically and radiologically active spinal tuberculosis involving vertebral bodies of level D4-L1 were treated with streptomycin, rifampicin, isoniazid and ethambutol daily for the first 2 months, followed by rifampicin plus isoniazid twice weekly for the next 7 months. The study was conducted in 2 phases. In the first phase 10 patients were admitted to the open trial where all patients had undergone modified Hong Kong surgery in addition to chemotherapy. In the next phase 23 patients enrolled in the study were randomly allocated to receive either chemotherapy alone or surgery plus chemotherapy. All the patients were followed for 5 years from the start of treatment. A scoring system was devised to predict neurological recovery.


In all, 33 patients were admitted and treated with SCC. Thirteen patients were allocated to the chemotherapy (CHEM) regimen; of these 3 patients had to be operated upon for clinical deterioration; the remaining 20 had surgery plus chemotherapy; 4 were excluded for various reasons, leaving 29 patients in the analysis. None relapsed requiring treatment.


A combination of surgery (when indicated) and SCC of 9 months' duration is effective in the treatment of Pott's paraplegia. All patients had neurological recovery by the end of 9 months; 8 recovered with chemotherapy alone. Complete motor recovery was seen in 62% by the 3rd month and 90% by the 6th month.

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