What is it?

Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection that usually affects the lungs and can cause chest pain, coughing and other symptoms. When it affects the intestines, it is called intestinal tuberculosis. It is caused by M. tuberculosis and Mycobacterium bovis and was strongly linked to drinking unpasteurized milk but recently is an important acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)-associated disease in human beings. After being ingested, the bacteria are taken up by cells in the ileum. Intestinal tuberculosis is a chronic wasting disease, making the intestine look roughened. It can mimic other conditions such as Crohn’s disease or neoplastic diseases.

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Signs & symptoms

Symptoms of intestine tuberculosis may be hard to identify because they are not specific. They may include diarrhea, constipation, nausea, abdominal pain, and abdominal mass.


Diagnosis is complicated and is made by a combination of findings from the molecular, histologic and endoscopic tests. Real time PCR assay in the colonic tissue only has a sensitivity of 40–75%. Culture of biopsy is the gold standard however it requires 3–8 weeks to provide conclusive results.


Intestine tuberculosis is treated like regular pulmonary TB- with 4 drugs (rifampin, isoniazid, pyrazinamide, and ethambutol) for 6 months.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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