Open Access Research article

Hepatobiliary and pancreatic tuberculosis: A two decade experience

Sundeep S Saluja1*, Sukanta Ray1, Sujoy Pal1, Manu Kukeraja3, Deep N Srivastava2, Peush Sahni1 and Tushar K Chattopadhyay1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Gastrointestinal Surgery, Room No 1005, PC 1st floor, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

2 Department of Radiology, Room No 68, Ground floor, All India Institute of Medical sciences, New Delhi, India

3 Department of Pathology, 1st floor, All India Institute of Medical sciences, New Delhi, India

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BMC Surgery 2007, 7:10  doi:10.1186/1471-2482-7-10

Published: 24 June 2007



Isolated hepatobiliary or pancreatic tuberculosis (TB) is rare and preoperative diagnosis is difficult. We reviewed our experience over a period two decades with this rare site of abdominal tuberculosis.


The records of 18 patients with proven histological diagnosis of hepatobiliary and pancreatic tuberculosis were reviewed retrospectively. The demographic features, sign and symptoms, imaging, cytology/histopathology, procedures performed, outcome and follow up data were obtained from the departmental records. The diagnosis of tuberculosis was based on granuloma with caseation necrosis on histopathology or presence of acid fast bacilli.


Of 18 patients (11 men), 11 had hepatobiliary TB while 7 had pancreatic TB. Two-thirds of the patients were < 40 years (mean: 42 yrs; range 19–70 yrs). The duration of the symptoms varied between 2 weeks to 104 weeks (mean: 20 weeks). The most common symptom was pain in the abdomen (n = 13), followed by jaundice (n = 10), fever, anorexia and weight loss (n = 9). Five patients (28%) had associated extra-abdominal TB which helped in preoperative diagnosis in 3 patients. Imaging demonstrated extrahepatic bile duct obstruction in the patients with jaundice and in addition picked up liver, gallbladder and pancreatic masses with or without lymphadenopathy (peripancreatic/periportal). Preoperative diagnosis was made in 4 patients and the other 14 were diagnosed after surgery. Two patients developed significant postoperative complications (pancreaticojejunostomy leak [1] intraabdominal abscess [1]) and 3 developed ATT induced hepatotoxicity. No patient died. The median follow up period was 12 months (9 – 96 months).


Tuberculosis should be considered as a differential diagnosis, particularly in young patients, with atypical signs and symptoms coming from areas where tuberculosis is endemic and preoperative tissue and/or cytological diagnosis should be attempted before labeling them as hepatobiliary and pancreatic malignancy.