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Archivos Españoles de Urología (Ed. impresa)

versión impresa ISSN 0004-0614

Arch. Esp. Urol. vol.62 no.4  may. 2009




Genitourinary and osteoarticular tuberculosis (Pott’s disease)

Tuberculosis genitourinaria y osteoarticular (Mal de Pott)



Pablo Eguiluz Lumbreras, Alberto Palacios Hernández, Oscar Heredero Zorzo, Ana Sánchez Fernández1 and Manuel Urrutia Avisrror.

Department and Chair of Urology. Salalmanca University. Clinic Hospital. Salamanca. Spain.
1Department of Pneumony. Rio Hortega. University Hospital. Valladolid. Spain.





Objective: We present the case of a patient with urogenital and osteoarticular tuberculosis.
Methods: Patient with end stage renal disease on hemodyalisis in study for fever of unknown origin. Multiple diagnostic tests were performed.
Results: Medical treatment for tuberculosis was given with improvement of the symptoms.
Conclusion: The early urogram study can be crucial in the diagnosis of urogenital tuberculosis in initial stages, thus avoiding the progressive deterioration of kidney function.

Key words: Tuberculosis. Urogenital tuberculosis. Mal de Pott.


Objetivo: Presentamos el caso de un paciente con Tuberculosis urogenital y osteoarticular.
Método: Paciente en estudio por síndrome febril sin foco infeccioso aparente en tratamiento con hemodiálisis al que se le realizan múltiples pruebas diagnósticas.
Resultados: Se pauta tratamiento médico antituberculoso remitiendo el cuadro.
Conclusión: El estudio urográfico precoz puede ser determinante en el diagnóstico de la tuberculosis urogenital en estadios iniciales, evitando así el deterioro progresivo de la función renal.

Palabras clave: Tuberculosis. Tuberculosis urogenital. Mal de Pott.



The tubercular disease is a disorder that has increased its incidence in western societies significantly, due to several causes such as the AIDS pandemic. Tuberculosis in any location is the most common disease in patients with AIDS, immigrants and immuno-compromised patients or patients with immunodeficiency. Urinary tuberculosis is a disease that affects young adults (60% of the affected patients are between 20 and 40 years old), and it is slightly more common in men than in women (1).

Urinary tuberculosis is always a secondary focus, and it must be seen as such whenever it is located in the kidneys, ureter, bladder and urethra. Kidneys are the most commonly affected organs, and they are the first to show clinical symptoms. Testicular and prostatic infections are less common.

In all cases, the main infection route is the hematogenous pathway.


Case report

We present the case of a male patient of 65 years of age with a record of hypercholesterolemia, ischemic cardiopathy (AMI), left ventricular failure (LVEF: 35-40%), and slight tricuspid, mitral and aortic failure. He also presented repeated urinary infections, and chronic renal failure with unknown etiology since 2003. The patient is currently under examination in the urology service due to an increase in the tPSA levels (7.36 ng/ml). He was admitted as an emergency with feverish symptoms and a worsening of his general condition, without symptoms of respiratory, urinary or digestive infections. The patient had recently undergone a prostatic biopsy, and the results were yet to come at admission. For this reason, renal transplant is temporally contraindicated.

The digital rectal exam revealed a prostate with an elastic consistency that did not arouse clinical suspicion.

Blood analysis were performed, Biochemistry: Urea: 134 mg/dl; Creatinine: 6.98 mg/dl; ALP: 126/U/l; PCR > 9 mg/dl; the rest of the parameters were between normal values. The thoracic x-ray reveals a bilateral interstitial pattern with fissure hemorrhage (see Fig. 1). The result of the x-ray aroused the suspicion of an atypical pneumonia, and a Legionella antigen test in urine is performed as an emergency, with negative results. The patient is then dialyzed, and during the session there was a fever spike of 39o C. Two hemocultures were obtained, as well as a urine culture. Empirical antibiotic therapy with levofloxacine and clarithromycin is established in order to attack both typical and atypical respiratory bacteria.


Afterwards, a clinical-radiological dissociation is observed: The patient was asymptomatic, but the thoracic x-ray still showed a bilateral interstitial pattern. In view of the fever that persisted, in spite of the empirical antibiotic therapy (Levofloxacine, Clarithromycid and Meropenem), and of the negative result of the blood and urine cultures, a bacilloscopy of the urine and the sputum, a Ziehl-Neelsen stain and a culture in a Löwenstein medium were performed, confirming a urogenital tubercular infection. A specific treatment with Rifampicin, Isoniazid and Pyrazinamide was started.

Given the persistence of pain in the right lateral lumbosacral region, a thoraco-abdominal NMR is performed, which reveals bilateral pulmonary interstitial involvement with thickened interlobular septa and swelling of the micronodules, compatible with tuberculosis. The scan also showed perivascular adenopathies of 1 cm and a right paratracheal adenopathy of 1.2 cm, as well as severe bilateral renal cortical atrophy with marked bilateral hydronephrosis and an alteration in the density of the L2-L3 vertebral bodies with a 2.5 cm-thick paravertebral mass in the intervertebral disc, compatible with spondylodiscitis. In view of these findings, spondylodiscitis secondary to tuberculosis (Pott disease) is diagnosed, (See Fig. 2), with ossifluent abscess towards the thigh. After an assessment in the service of traumatology, a symptomatic treatment with an orthopaedic corset was decided.


The result of the prostatic biopsy was prostate adenocarcinoma (Gleason 3+2) that affected the right lobe.

Löwenstein in urine: Positive for Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

The patient is diagnosed with urogenital tuberculosis and vertebral involvement L2-L3 (Pott disease), and he remains with tuberculostatic treatment (Isoniazid mg/ Kg/day + Pyrazinamide 30 mg/Kg/day + Rifampicin 10 mg/Kg/day for 2 months; Isoniazid + Rifampicin in the same dose for the following 4 months).



Although the lung is the main target organ of tuberculosis, any other organ and system can be affected too. The finding of M. tuberculosis is uncommon. Therefore, the symptoms, the analysis results and specially the biopsies with a histological and bacteriological study lead us to the certainty of diagnosis.

Extrapulmonary tuberculosis represents 10% of all the tuberculosis cases that affect immunocompetent patients, although this rate increases significantly in people with some degree of immunodeficiency (2).

The main key for the diagnosis of urogenital tuberculosis is given by a proper exam of the urine (sterile pyuria, acid pH and culture for tubercular bacillum). Recently, tests for the detection of urinary tuberculosis through PCR, which have proven to be faster and more precise, have been introduced in the market (3,4).

There are three locations that can be considered serious: meningoencephalic, osteoarticular and renal locations. The adjuvant treatment with corticoids in order to prevent obstructive uropathies in case of ureteral involvement is subject to controversy in the urological literature, with little scientific evidence (5).

The most commonly affected bones and joints are the vertebral column, the hips, and the knees, while all the other locations are not usually compromised. Sir Percival Pott, in 1779, was the first to establish a relation between the twisted spine and tuberculosis, and that is why this disorder has his name, Pott disease. The location in the column appears in 1% of all cases, and dorsal and lumbar vertebrae are the most common locations. In our case, the symptom of lumbar pain was crucial for the diagnostic suspicion of tuberculosis (Figure 2).

Tuberculosis of the urinary system must include the cases in which the location is the kidney, the ureter, the bladder and the urethra. The kidney is the most commonly affected organ, and it is the first that shows clinical manifestations. The main infection route is the hematogenous pathway, whereas an infection via the lymphatic pathway is extremely rare.

At first, the lesion is circumscribed to the cortical region of the kidney. Through the kidney tubules or the lymphatic tubules it reaches the spinal cord and it produces a tubercular ulcerous papillitis. This region is more vulnerable to the lesion, and it is the one in which the first clinical manifestations. The lesion could also reach a cavity in which it enters into contact with the excretory pathway.

The excretory pathway then suffers a congestive process and an edema or ulcers that form a scar that can cause an obstruction, thus hampering the evacuation of the excretory pathway and causing an increase in the endocavitary pressure. If this situation is not fixed, it can become into a pseudocystic cavity or a cavern. the bladder can be fibrous and can withdraw, while the trigone of the urinary bladder is the only part that remains unaffected.

Tuberculosis of the bladder is usually cured when a definitive treatment for the primary genitourinary infection is established. If the vesicle ulcers do not respond to the treatment, trans-ureteral electrical coagulation might be required (1).



Given the persistence of repeated urinary infections with poor response to the usual diagnosis, we must take into account urogenital tuberculosis into the differential diagnosis.

An early urographic study can be crucial in the diagnosis of urogenital tuberculosis in initial stages, thus avoiding the progressive deterioration of kidney function, as well as the progression towards a terminal renal failure.



Pablo Eguíluz Lumbreras
Henry Collet, 14-22 - portal 5, 2oC.
37007. Salamanca. (España).

Accepted for publication: May 26th, 2008.



References and recommended readings (*of special interest, **of outstanding interest)

**1. Jiménez Gálvez M, Herranz Fernández LM, Arellano Gañán R, et al. Forma de presentación seudo-tumoral de tuberculosis urogenital: caso clínico.        [ Links ]

2. Fanlo P, Tiberio G. Tuberculosis extrapulmonar An. Sist. Sanit. Navar. 2007 Vol. 30, Suplemento 2.        [ Links ]

*3. Hemal AK, Gupta NP, Rajeen TP et al. Polimerase chain reaction in clinically sustected genitourinary tuberculosis: comparison with intravenous urography, bladder biopsy, and urine acid fastbacilli culture. En Urology 2000; 56(4):570-574.        [ Links ]

*4. Moussa OM, Eraky I, El-Far MA et al. Rapid diagnostic of genitourinary tuberculosis by polimerase chain reaction and non-radioactive DNA hibridization. En Journal Urology 2000; 164(2):584-588.        [ Links ]

5. Domínguez-Castellano A et al. Guía de práctica clínica de la sociedad andaluza de enfermedades infecciosas (SAEI) sobre el tratamiento de la tuberculosis. 2007.        [ Links ]

6. Canovas Ivorra J A, Tramoyeres Galván A, Sánchez Ballester F, et al. La tuberculosis genitourinaria en la obra urológica del profesor Rafael Mollá Rodrigo (1862-1930). Análisis documental histórico de su obra. Arch. Esp. Urol., 2005; 58(3): 195-198.        [ Links ]

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