Tuberculous infection of the gastrointestinal tract results in a variety of histopathological lesions. Some patients develop intestinal strictures and present with subacute intestinal obstruction. The treatment is controversial and vary from a trial of antituberculous drugs to early surgery:the response to medical therapy is not clear. To examine this issue the present prospective therapeutic trial was carried out on 39 patients with symptoms of bowel obstruction and radiological evidence of intestinal stricture. All patients were treated with conventional antituberculous drugs (streptomycin, rifampicin, and isoniazid) under close supervision. Thirty four (87%) patients completed the trial, five were lost to follow up. Thirty one (91%) of these showed significant clinical improvement:26 became completely symptom free, while the remaining five complained of only vague abdominal discomfort. Only three (8%) patients failed to respond to treatment and were subjected to surgery. Barium series were repeated in 23 of 31 who completed the treatment; the remaining eight refused further investigations. Complete resolution of the radiological abnormality was seen in 16 (70%) patients. In the remaining seven (30%) the stricture persisted; in two of these the treatment was continued for another year and both showed substantial radiological improvement. It is concluded that most patients with tuberculous strictures respond well to medical treatment and surgery should be resorted to only if drug therapy fails.
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