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Tuberculosis Of Spine - An Insight!

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Gururaj Sangondimath 89% (25 ratings)
Fellowship in spinal tumor surgery, Fellowship in Cervical spine surgery, FNB Spine Surgery, Fellowship in spinal deformity, fellowship in MInimalli invasive(Keyhole) surgery, CPC paliative care, MS-Orthopaedics, MBBS
Orthopedist, Howrah  •  16 years experience
Tuberculosis Of Spine - An Insight!

A few decades back, spinal tuberculosis was a dreaded disease. It is not so, anymore. With advancements in the medicinal field, when diagnosed in the early stages, a complete cure is possible.

Tuberculosis of the spine is one of the most common spine ailments in our country. Though there was no treatment when the disease was first reported, recent improvements in medical treatment and surgical procedures have made the condition treatable. In many cases, the disease is cured completely.

Molecular genetic techniques, stronger antibiotics and other medicinal discoveries and inventions have been able to combat the condition, which is resistant to a huge number of drugs. There are many surgical procedures as well, which has changed the way spine TB is looked at. These include extrapleural dorsal spine anterior stabilization, endoscopic thoracoscopic surgeries, single stage anterior and posterior stabilization among others.

How is it caused?
Tuberculosis affects people living in overcrowded, dirty and poorly nourished environments. The aerobic organism that is responsible for this physical condition is Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which grows rapidly in unfavorable conditions. It grows only intermittently or remains dormant for a long period to then re-grow whenever the immunity system of the host weakens.

What are the different types of TB spine?
Spinal tuberculosis takes two forms. In the first case, the symptoms are mild. The infection starts in the anterior part of the disc and slowly spreads to the nearby surface of the body. The neural arches are very rarely involved here. This results in a vertebral collapse. The spine bends forward to produce kyphus. In the second type, several vertebrae are involved, but the disc space might not become narrow.

What are the symptoms of TB spine?
The first symptom is an excessive pain in the back, which manifests as kyphosis increases. Kyphosis is the condition wherein there is an increase in the normal convex curve of the spine. Later, pus forms at the infected vertebrae and this comes down to the tissue planes and forms a cold abscess in uncommon places. This happens in the groin region, and the person may become paraplegic.

In a child, spinal tuberculosis will cause them to constantly complain about back pains. They will not feel well for a long period and will gradually lose weight. They may not want to sit for a long time and resent any physical activity. The child will be vulnerable in the low thoracic or upper lumbar spine and can show any of the above-mentioned signs that are seen in adults.

The most common symptoms of spinal tuberculosis are kyphus, reduction in the movement of the lumbar spine, cold abscesses in the paraspinal area, groin and loin, and sinuses. The doctor always tests the reflexes in the patient’s legs, sensation, power, and tone before diagnosing this condition.

Though a rare disease, tuberculosis in the spine can occur in people from both developed and undeveloped areas. Proper diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis with or without surgery at the right time is the key to cure the disease.

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