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Cervical spinal tuberculosis with tuberculous otitis media masquerading as otitis externa malignans in an elderly diabetic patient: case report

A Aderibigbe
FE Ologe


Extrapulmonary manifestation of tuberculosis (Tb), a medieval disease, occurs in every part of the body with varying degree of frequency but commonly in the pleural and lymph nodes. When it occurs in bones thoracolumbar vertebrae is the usual site of involvement. Other bones are less involved hence seldomly reported. This is true for other organs and parts of the body including larynx, pharynx nose and the middle ear. More importantly, isolated extrapulmonary tuberculosis without pulmonary involvement is uncommon. The case of a 65 year old Nigerian trader who presented with headache, chronic ear ache with otorrhoea, persistent neck pain and found to be diabetic on further evaluation is presented. She was hitherto managed as a case of otitis external malignans without any improvement but rather her clinical condition worsened with evidence of cervical vertebra destruction and multiple cranial nerve palsies without pulmonary tuberculosis. Prompt and effective response to anti tuberculosis drugs informed the diagnosis of tuberculosis of the cervical vertebra and tuberculous otitis media with multiple cranial nerve palsies. This case underscores the value of high index of suspicion, thorough and complete clinical evaluation in any patient with chronic symptoms and signs unresponsive to conventional treatment.

East African Medical Journal Vol. 81 No. 5 May 2004: 267-270

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