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World Journal of Emergency
Tubercular appendicitis – a case report
Sanjay Gupta*1, Robin Kaushik1, Amanjit Kaur2 and Ashok Kumar Attri1
Address: 1Department of General Surgery, Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, India and 2Department of Pathology,
Government Medical College and Hospital Chandigarh, India
Email: Sanjay Gupta* - firstname.lastname@example.org; Robin Kaushik - email@example.com; Amanjit Kaur - firstname.lastname@example.org;
Ashok Kumar Attri - email@example.com
* Corresponding author
Tuberculosis of the appendix remains a rarity despite the frequency of intestinal tuberculosis. We
report a case of acute appendicitis that underwent appendectomy at our hospital, and the
histopathology of the specimen revealed tuberculosis.
Although the ileocaecal region is the most commonly
affected part of the intestine in intestinal tuberculosis,
involvement of the appendix is rare, occurring in only
about 1.5 to 3 % of cases. The appendix may either be
involved secondary to ileocaecal tuberculosis, or to tuber-
culosis at another site within the abdomen, or, may occur
in the even rarer "isolated" form, without evidence of the
Tuberculosis of the appendix presenting with the signs
and symptoms of acute appendicitis is an even rarer
entity. Even in areas where tuberculosis is common, it is
not possible to make the correct diagnosis because the
clinical picture is that of acute appendicitis, without any
signs suggestive of tuberculosis infection of the organ.
Therefore, the diagnosis of appendicular tuberculosis is
usually made on histopathological examination of the
appendectomy specimen, often received well after the
patient has been discharged.
A 12-year-old female patient presented with clinical signs
and symptoms of acute appendicitis over a duration of
one day. General examination revealed tenderness and
rebound localised to the McBurney's point. Routine
hematological and biochemical investigations were
within normal limits except for raised total leucocyte
count (16,000/ml). She was diagnosed as acute appendi-
citis and taken up for appendectomy in the emergency.
Surgery was unremarkable, the appendix turgid, and
showing signs of inflammation. She was discharged on
the very next day.
On OPD follow up, she was detected to have wound infec-
tion that was managed conservatively. She subsequently
developed an incisional hernia at the appendectomy site
that was repaired electively later.
Histopathology analysis of the appendectomy specimen
revealed the presence of caseating granulomas and Lang-
han's giant cells, suggesting tuberculosis of the appendix
She was started on Anti Tubercular Therapy on OPD fol-
low up. Efforts to detect a primary focus of tuberculosis
elsewhere in the body were unsuccessful. The patient is
presently well on a follow up of two and a half years.
Published: 26 July 2006
World Journal of Emergency Surgery 2006, 1:22 doi:10.1186/1749-7922-1-22
Received: 28 March 2006
Accepted: 26 July 2006
This article is available from: http://www.wjes.org/content/1/1/22
© 2006 Gupta et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0),
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
World Journal of Emergency Surgery 2006, 1:22 http://www.wjes.org/content/1/1/22
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Despite gastrointestinal tuberculosis being common in
India, affliction of the appendix with the disease remains
a rarity . The reported incidence of appendicular tuber-
culosis in all appendectomies performed varies from 0.1
to 3.0 %, with an incidence of 1.5 to 30 % among patients
who are known cases of tuberculosis . Autopsy figures
among patients of tuberculosis also reveal appendicular
involvement in about 30 % of the cases . A few authors
have reported upto 46 to 70 % involvement of the appen-
dix in patients with intestinal tuberculosis .
The exact mechanism of involvement of the appendix
remains unclear. The various ways by which the appendix
can be involved are – hematogenous, by infected intesti-
nal contents, and, by extension of disease from neigh-
bouring ileocaecal or genital tuberculosis . A few
authors consider the hematogenous route to be the com-
mon mode of spread, whereas others feel that secondary
involvement of the appendix is commoner . Secondary
involvement of the appendix can either occur as a local
extension of ileocaecal tuberculosis, as retrograde lym-
phatic spread from distant lesions, or as appendicular
serositis and periappendicitis in peritoneal tuberculosis
. However, despite the ileocaecal junction being the
most common site of involvement in intestinal tuberculo-
sis, the relative infrequency of involvement of the appen-
dix in intestinal/ileocaecal tuberculosis has been
explained by the minimal contact of the luminal mucosa
of the appendix with the intestinal contents [1,4]. Primary
tuberculosis of the appendix has no detectable focus of
infection anywhere else in the body, and is extremely rare.
Ideally, to make the diagnosis of primary appendicular
tuberculosis, a post mortem would be required, but for
clinical purposes, this diagnosis can be made if there is an
absence of any evidence of tuberculosis after thorough
investigations or at laparotomy [1,2]. The mode of infec-
tion in these cases is considered to be ingestion of con-
taminated foods .
The disease can present either as a chronic disease (com-
monest presentation) with recurrent episodes of right iliac
fossa pain, vomitings and diarrhoea, as acute appendici-
tis, or as a latent type that is detected incidentally [1,2].
Photomicrograph showing multiple epithelioid cell granulomas in the submucosa
Photomicrograph showing multiple epithelioid cell granulomas in the submucosa. The overlying mucosa is focally ulcerated. (H
& E × 100).
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World Journal of Emergency Surgery 2006, 1:22http://www.wjes.org/content/1/1/22
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The acute presentation occurs due to severe pyogenic
infection that is superimposed on the tubercular appen-
dix. This type of presentation is seen during the quiescent
phase of pulmonary tuberculosis, if present . The pres-
ence of chronic abdominal pain of long duration in young
adults, pulmonary tuberculosis, poor nutritional status
and loss of weight, and the presence of chronic diarrhoea
have been said to be indicative of tuberculosis of the
appendix [4,5], but these symptoms are of doubtful value,
especially in India, where tuberculosis and amoebiasis are
As there are no pathognomic clinical features of appendic-
ular tuberculosis, a pre-operative diagnosis is difficult. The
diagnosis is usually made after histopathological exami-
nation of the appendectomy specimen. Pre-operative
diagnosis does not alter the management of these patients
as treatment in patients presenting with signs and symp-
toms of appendicitis remains appendectomy. However,
anti-tubercular therapy must be started in the post-opera-
tive period if the biopsy reveals tuberculosis.
The author(s) declare that they have no competing inter-
SG participated in the surgery and was involved in the
drafting of the manuscript.
RK performed the surgery, and was involved in drafting of
the manuscript, and revising it critically for the intellec-
A carried out the histopathological examination and
helped in drafting the manuscript.
AKA helped in the revision of the intellectual content and
gave final approval of the version to be published.
Authors have read and approved the final manuscript.
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