Tuberculous abscess

Last revised by Michael P Hartung on 4 Sep 2021

Tuberculous abscesses are an uncommon presentation of tuberculosis, most often encountered in immunocompromised individuals (e.g. HIV/AIDS). Unlike the far more common tuberculomas (tuberculous granulomas), tuberculous abscesses contain pus with abundant identifiable organisms 1. The capsule that surrounds the necrotic purulent core is similar to more common bacterial abscesses, lacking the granulomatous reaction prominent in tuberculomas 1. They also lack the pus and neutrophils usually present in pyogenic abscesses 2. Spectroscopy usually shows lactate and lipid peaks 2.


The medical literature documents several phenomena described as tuberculous abscesses including intracranial tuberculous abscesses, dermal abscesses (a.k.a. gummas), and metastatic tuberculous abscesses.

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Cases and figures

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