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Free Content Tuberculous wrist in the era of effective chemotherapy: an eleven-year experience

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BACKGROUND: The chronic course and non-specific clinical manifestations of tuberculous (TB) wrist often cause failure to make a timely diagnosis.

OBJECTIVE: To better understand the rarely encountered TB wrist.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Retrospective review and analysis of cases of TB wrist between 1986 and 1997 in a medical centre in southern Taiwan.

RESULTS: Thirty-seven cases (16 definitive, 13 probable and eight possible) of TB wrist (25 men, 12 women; mean age, 56.3 ± 13.0 years) were found among a total of 4970 cases of tuberculosis. The most common presenting sign and symptom (mean duration 9.4 months) were local swelling and pain over the affected wrist. The mean white blood cell (WBC) count in peripheral blood was 7.04 × 109/l, and the erythrocyte sediment rates (ESR) in seven of 31 patients who had ESR assayed were normal. Forty-six per cent of the patients had abnormal chest X-ray, and 35% had had previous manipulation of the affected wrist.

CONCLUSION: Physicians should have a high index of suspicion for TB wrist among patients with chronic arthritis, even when their peripheral WBC count and ESR are normal. An abnormal chest X-ray and/or a history of previous manipulation of the affected wrist could be important clues for possible TB wrist.

Keywords: ESR; chest X-ray; joint tuberculosis; peripheral WBC count; tuberculous wrist

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital-Kaohsiung, Taiwan 2: Division of Orthopedic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital-Kaohsiung, Taiwan 3: Division of General Surgery, Department of Surgery, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital-Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Publication date: 2003-07-01

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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