Disseminated Miliary and Intestinal Tuberculosis Mimicking Inflammatory Bowel Disease


South Atlantic


Trident Medical Center

Document Type

Case Report

Publication Date



pancytopenia, hbv, granuloma, ileitis, tuberculoma, intracardiac mass, mycobacterium tuberculosis, disseminated miliary tuberculosis, extrapulmonary tuberculosis, intestinal tuberculosis


Bacterial Infections and Mycoses | Digestive System Diseases | Internal Medicine | Medicine and Health Sciences


The hematogenous dissemination of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tb) is commonly via the pulmonary system. Less commonly, ingestion of M. tb can lead to primary intestinal tuberculosis (TB), often misdiagnosed as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In extremely rare cases, the dissemination can involve cardiac infiltration/tuberculoma. One such case involves a 21-year-old man from Guatemala who spoke a rare dialect of Spanish with nonspecific complaints and an abdominal CT scan showing terminal ileum thickening suggestive of Crohn’s disease (CD). A colonoscopy revealed ileitis and tissue biopsy showed granulomatous inflammation with a positive acid-fast bacillus (AFB) stain and positive blood cultures isolated for TB. Chest CT angiography (CTA) also revealed miliary nodules and a right atrial mass was confirmed with cardiac MRI. Viral serology revealed chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) co-infection, but the patient was HIV-negative. Anti-tubercular therapy (ATT) with rifampin, isoniazid, pyrazinamide, and ethambutol (RIPE), in addition to tenofovir, was initiated, followed by a complicated hospital stay including rifampin-induced bone marrow suppression. Ultimately, he was discharged on isoniazid, pyrazinamide, ethambutol, levofloxacin, and entecavir. Intestinal TB can be misdiagnosed as IBD with the administration of steroids, potentially worsening infection. A systemic approach to clinical investigation with a thorough history using medical translators can lead to early diagnosis and treatment of intestinal and disseminated TB.

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