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Symptoms and investigative findings in 145 patients with tuberculous peritonitis diagnosed by peritoneoscopy and biopsy over a five year period.
  1. A Manohar,
  2. A E Simjee,
  3. A A Haffejee,
  4. K E Pettengell
  1. Department of Medicine, (Gastrointestinal unit), University of Natal/King Edward VIII Hospital, Durban, South Africa.


    This study analysed clinical features and laboratory investigations in 145 patients with tuberculous peritonitis diagnosed by peritoneoscopy at this hospital between 1984 and 1988. Tuberculous peritonitis was found in 2% of all patients with tuberculosis and in 59.8% of all those with abdominal tuberculosis admitted to the hospital during the study period. Tuberculous peritonitis was more common in women than men (1.4:1) and was most frequently encountered in the third and fourth decades of life. The commonest presenting symptoms were abdominal swelling (73.1%), fever and night sweats (53.8%), anorexia (46.9%), weight loss (44.1%), and abdominal pain (35.9%). The mean duration of symptoms was 1.5 months. Ascites was the commonest (95.2%) physical sign. Tuberculin skin testing was positive in 57.6% of patients (n = 118). The mean erythrocyte sedimentation rate was 75 mm/1st hour (n = 58). Chest radiography on 98 patients showed pleuropulmonary pathology in 40 patients (40.8%). Sputum examination confirmed active pulmonary tuberculosis in 26 patients. The ascitic fluid was an exudate in 96.4% and a transudate in 3.6% of patients, with 91.3% showing a straw coloured ascites. Cirrhosis, detected by biopsy specimen, was a finding in 6.2% of patients.

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