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Free Content Tuberculosis of the breast: 10 years' experience in one institution

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SETTING: Breast tuberculosis (TB) is rare even in endemic areas. Its presentation is variable and non-specific, and its diagnosis is therefore usually delayed.

DESIGN: We recruited breast TB cases between 1998 and June 2009 at Kaohsiung Medical Center in southern Taiwan. We retrospectively reviewed the clinical features, diagnosis and management of breast TB.

RESULTS: A total of 26 patients with breast TB (25 females) were included in this study. The most common presentation was breast tumour, followed by breast abscess and painful sensation. Patients received partial mastectomy or incision and drainage. The pathological examination revealed granulomatous inflammation, acute and chronic inflammation or both. Polymerase chain reaction has very low sensitivity in diagnosing breast TB. The interval between initial presentation and definite treatment was an average of 54.5 days. All patients received anti-tuberculosis chemotherapy, with excellent response.

CONCLUSION: The presentation of breast TB is variable and diagnosis is usually delayed. The disease can be diagnosed through pathological tests and a high suspicion by experienced physicians. The definite treatment is adequate anti-tuberculosis chemotherapy after surgical excision or drainage.
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Keywords: breast tuberculosis; diagnosis; granulomatous inflammation; treatment; tubercular mastitis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Division of General Surgery, Department of Surgery, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital–Kaohsiung Medical Center, Chang Gung University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan 2: Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital–Kaohsiung Medical Center, Chang Gung University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Publication date: June 1, 2010

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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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