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Abstract

Background Cutaneous tuberculosis is widespread in Pakistan but has not been fully documented. This study was conducted to determine the clinical pattern, nature and existence of the disease in Larkana, Sindh province, Pakistan.

Methods We are reporting 153 cases of patients with cutaneous tuberculosis who visited our department from 1996 to 1999. All cases were diagnosed at the clinic, and the biopsies were examined for histopathological evidence. The patients received three antituberculous treatments during a 9 month course.

Results Clinically, 63 (41.2%) cases of lupus vulgaris, 54 (35.3%) of scrofuloderma, 29 (19.59%) of lupus verrucosa cutis, six (3.92%) of tuberculosis cutis orificialis and one (0.64%) case of disseminated cutaneous tuberculosis were observed in our department from 1996 to 1999. All patients were aged between 3 and 50 years and had experienced the present complaints for 1 to 12 years. Sixty-nine (45.1%) cases were children aged under 10 years, 50 cases (37.25%) were aged between 10 and 20 years, and 27 cases (17.65%) were aged over 20 years. There was no considerable ratio difference of the disease between male and female patients. Histopathologically, all the specimens showed chronic granulomatous changes; the majority was infiltrated with epitheloid cells, langhans giant cells, plasma cells and other inflammatory cells, such as lymphocytes, eosinophils and neutrophils in ulcerated lesions. Increased numbers of mast cells were seen in upper and lower dermis in two-thirds of the specimens. Caseating necrosis was visible in half of the specimens while Ziehl-Neelsen stain was negative in all the sections.

Conclusions The observed number of patients was moderately large, thus indicating a high incidence of cutaneous tuberculosis in Larkana. Lupus vulgaris, a form of cutaneous tuberculosis, was widespread in this area and prevalent in adults, while scrofuloderma was prevalent in children. Moreover, the existing rate of the disease was higher in children aged under 10 years and lower in adults. This indicates that children are more prone to this disease than adults.