a1 Department of Pathology, J N Medical College, Aligarh Muslim University, Uttar Pradesh, India
a2 Department of Surgery, J N Medical College, Aligarh Muslim University, Uttar Pradesh, India
a3 Department of Radiodiagnosis, J N Medical College, Aligarh Muslim University, Uttar Pradesh, India
Background: The commonest form of extrapulmonary tuberculosis is tubercular cervical lymphadenitis, or scrofula.
Methods and results: A total of 1827 patients with cervical lymphadenopathy who presented to various out-patients clinics of our institution were studied over a three-year period. Eight hundred and ninety-three (48.87 per cent) of these patients had lesions of tubercular origin. The most common observation was unilateral, matted adenopathy in female patients aged between 11 and 20 years and without constitutional symptoms of tuberculosis. Posterior triangle nodes were affected in 43.8 per cent of cases, followed by upper deep cervical nodes in 33.9 per cent. Fine needle aspiration cytology constituted the main diagnostic tool, with a positive yield in 90 per cent of patients. Polymerase chain reaction analysis was performed in 126 patients, with a sensitivity of 63 per cent. Only 18 per cent of patients had associated pulmonary tuberculosis, the rest having isolated involvement of cervical nodes. Medical treatment with anti-tubercular drugs for a period of six months formed the mainstay of treatment and cure. Surgical management was reserved for selected refractory patients.
Conclusion: Tubercular cervical lymphadenitis can readily be diagnosed by fine needle aspiration cytology, a simple and cost-effective test. The disease can be cured completely by a short course of anti-tubercular chemotherapy, without surgical intervention.
(Accepted July 15 2008)
(Online publication October 10 2008)
Dr S H Harris takes responsibility for the integrity of the content of the paper.
Competing interests: None declared