Tuberculosis (TB) of the gastro intestinal tract (digestive system) and abdominal cavity is known as abdominal tuberculosis.

Abdominal tuberculosis could be the result of a primary infection or the reactivation of a dormant focus. Ingestion of the tuberculous germ by drinking unpasteurized milk of cow infected with TB is one of the mechanisms of abdominal TB. Abdominal tuberculosis is one of the common forms of extra-pulmonary tuberculosis. Common pathogens involved are Mycobacterium tuberculosis a nd Mycobacterium bovis. Some common symptoms of abdominal tuberculosis are as follows:-

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Colicky pain in the abdomen
  • Abdominal swelling and tenderness
  • Night sweats


How can abdominal TB be diagnosed? – Endoscopy and biopsy are the front line mechanisms for confirming the diagnosis of abdominal tuberculosis. By utilizing these methods, the tuberculosis germ can be isolated from the digestive system and confirm the diagnosis of abdominal tuberculosis. Imaging studies like abdominal x-rays and an ultrasound and CT scan of the abdomen may also be done.


Prevention of abdominal TB:- The preventive treatment of abdominal TB consists in the use of wholesome fresh food as the diet and of the maintenance of a healthy condition in the alimentary canal. The dread of tubercle-laden cow’s milk has affected the profession and the public for some years and elaborate methods of sterilization were introduced to destroy not only every tubercle bacillus, but also every spore. For practical purposes it has been found that boiling the milk for one or two minutes will destroy the bacilli. A proper diet is also recommended in order to avoid gastro-intestinal disturbance. These simple preventive steps can help you prevent abdominal TB.


Major types of abdominal TB:-

  • Acidic – This type of abdominal tuberculosis presents with accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, swollen abdomen and with nodules of 1-2mm in size over the peritoneum (the inner lining of the abdomen) which are slightly raised. It is also commonly referred to as wet type of abdominal tuberculosis.
  • Obstructive – This type is also called dry type and manifests with adhesions over the omentum and loops of intestines causing them to become thick and rubbery and leading to intestinal obstruction.
  • Glandular – This type affects mesenteric lymph nodes which enlarge in size and become firm, hard and are less mobile. They can at times be felt through the abdominal wall. Some amount of ascites and intestinal obstruction can be present but are not that characteristic.



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