Spinal TB cases raise concern

Two lakh Indians of all age groups are afflicted with the disease; sometimes, spinal deformity can occur.

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Spinal TB cases raise concern

Tuberculosis need not necessarily be linked to the lung always. Experts say that while lung TB is the most common one, about two lakh Indians suffer from tuberculosis of the spine.

Tuberculosis of the spine, also referred to as Pott’s disease or Tuberculosis Spondylitis, is equally a cause for concern. Prior to the World TB Day, city-based specialists spoke about tuberculosis of the spine.

The disease can affect anyone across any age group.

“Contradictory to the common belief, it affects people of all socio-economic backgrounds. Malnourishment, immunosuppression (HIV-AIDS) and stress are some predisposing factors.

Tuberculosis of spine is the most common form of skeletal tuberculosis. Incidence of spinal TB has increased with a rise in prevalence among HIV patients,” said Dr Mahesh Bijjawara, consultant Spine Surgeon, Jain Institute of Spinecare and Research (JISAR), Bhagwan Mahaveer Jain Hospital.

Common symptoms include backache or neck pain. “With increased destruction of bone and cord compression, a patient may develop complete paraplegia with loss of bowel and bladder control. Sometimes, spinal deformity (kyphosis-forward bending) can occur. It is progressive and can cause mechanical problems like difficulty in breathing and late onset neurological deficits,” said
Dr Bijjawara.

“The incident of spinal tuberculosis is on the rise. We treat at least three to four patients every week and operate about four patients every month. In the past one year, we have done surgeries for patients with spinal TB aged between seven and 85 years,” he said.

Even children are not spared of this disease.

“Infection of the spine by the bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculi) along with arthritic changes lead to disease of the mid or lower spine, commonly known as Pott’s disease. Mostly, the disease is presented with fractures that are revealed through scans. But at times, it can be asymptomatic,” said Dr Mythri Shankar, senior consultant, nuclear medicine, Apollo Hospital. However, once treated, the disease does not recur.

 “About two in 100 patients of lung TB may get afflicted with spinal TB later in their life. The easiest way to prevent spinal TB is by maintaining a very high level of hygiene and sanitary condition.

People living in over-crowded surroundings are more prone to get cross-infected with the bacteria. Also, every individual should have the BCG vaccine at birth to prevent future TB,” said Dr Shantanu Rahman, founder and medical director, NationWide Primary Healthcare Services Pvt Ltd.

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