Primary tubercular sialadenitis – A diagnostic dilemma

Document Type: Original

Authors

1 Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Head-Neck Surgery, Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital, Delhi, India

2 Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Head-Neck Surgery, Seth G.S Medical College and KEM Hospital

Abstract

Introduction:
Involvement of the salivary glands in tuberculosis is rare, even in countries where tuberculosis is endemic. It can occur by systemic dissemination from a distant focus or, less commonly, as primary involvement. This article focuses on its myriad clinical presentations that pose a diagnostic challenge to the clinician. We discuss the schema of investigations required to confirm the diagnosis and the limitations faced in the low-cost setting of a developing country.
 
Materials and Methods:
Medical records, including history, physical examination and imaging findings, and the results of cytological, microbiological and histopathological studies of patients diagnosed with primary tubercular sialadenitis were retrieved and analyzed.
Results:
Seven patients were treated over a 2-year period. The most common mode of presentation was a painless mass of the involved gland in four patients. One patient each presented with chronic non-obstructive sialadenitis, sialolithiasis, and acute suppurative sialadenitis. Fine needle aspiration cytology was diagnostic in five out of seven cases (71.4%), while mycobacterial culture was positive in two patients (28.6%). In one patient, a diagnosis could only be reached on histopathological examination of the resected gland.
Conclusion:
We recommend cytology studies, acid-fast bacilli staining, and mycobacterial culture as the initial investigation on the aspirate in suspected patients, while polymerase chain reaction should be reserved for negative cases. A high index of suspicion, early diagnosis, and timely institution of anti-tuberculosis treatment is essential for establishing cure. The role of surgery in diagnosed cases of tuberculosis is limited.

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