The nodular form of hepatic tuberculosis: A review with five additional new cases

W. T. Huang, C. C. Wang, W. J. Chen, Y. F. Cheng, H. L. Eng*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Background: Tuberculosis presenting as an isolated liver tumour, without active pulmonary or miliary tuberculosis, or other clinical evidence of tuberculosis, is distinctly rare. A greater awareness of this rare clinical entity may prevent needless surgical intervention. Aims: To help characterise this distinctly rare presentation of tuberculosis, five new cases are presented, together with a review of the world literature. The clinical, laboratory, radiological, and pathological features of these patients are described. Methods: Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay of the liver tissue was carried out in all cases to confirm an aetiological diagnosis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. Results: All five patients (44-71 years old; two women, three men) underwent surgery, and had a preoperative diagnosis of malignant hepatic neoplasm and a postoperative histological diagnosis of chronic granulomatous inflammation, suggestive of tuberculosis. None of them had a known previous history of tuberculosis. All of them were positive for M tuberculosis by PCR analysis of the liver tissue. Conclusions: This report illustrates the difficulty in reaching a correct preoperative diagnosis. It is usually unsuspected and confused with primary or metastatic carcinoma of the liver, especially when it coexists with other malignancies. A high index of suspicion is required for diagnosis, which can be made only by histological and bacteriological studies, and PCR analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)835-839
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Pathology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 11 2003
Externally publishedYes


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