What are symptoms of Pott disease (tuberculous [TB] spondylitis)?

Updated: Aug 08, 2019
  • Author: Jose A Hidalgo, MD; Chief Editor: John L Brusch, MD, FACP  more...
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Answer

Potential constitutional symptoms of Pott disease include fever and weight loss. The reported average duration of symptoms at diagnosis is 4 months [18] but can be considerably longer. [20, 24] This is due to the nonspecific presentation of chronic back pain.

Back pain is the earliest and most common symptom of Pott disease, with patients usually experiencing this problem for weeks before seeking treatment. The pain caused by Pott disease can be spinal or radicular.

Neurologic abnormalities occur in 50% of cases and can include spinal cord compression with paraplegia, paresis, impaired sensation, nerve root pain, and/or cauda equina syndrome.

Cervical spine tuberculosis is a less common presentation but is potentially more serious because severe neurologic complications are more likely. This condition is characterized by pain and stiffness. Patients with lower cervical spine disease can present with dysphagia or stridor. Symptoms can also include torticollis, hoarseness, and neurologic deficits.

The clinical presentation of spinal tuberculosis in patients infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is similar to that of patients who are HIV negative; however, spinal tuberculosis seems to be more common in persons infected with HIV. [25]


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