AIIMS to draft new guidelines for treating TB variants

Patients with tuberculosis outside their lungs are likely to be diagnosed earlier than usual now. Health experts came together on Thursday at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences to prepare guidelines on extra pulmonary tuberculosis. 

According to doctors, India is the first country to take the initiative to develop standardised guidelines for this disease. The Union Health Ministry and the AIIMS Centre of Excellence for Extra Pulmonary TB roped in 47 specialists from across the country to frame the guidelines.

Extra pulmonary tuberculosis or tuberculosis outside the lungs is a disease that is less known to patients.

 In fact, even doctors at the primary healthcare level are not aware on how to detect the disease early among patients, said health experts.

Currently, 15-20 per cent of the patients of the total tuberculosis population have Extra Pulmonary TB in India according to rough estimates, said a doctor at AIIMS. This form of TB often goes undetected with patients’ deaths declared as “unknown”.

“Tuberculosis affects all organs of the human body and managing it requires good clinical judgement and investigation services. The process of getting clinical guidelines is the first step towards providing high quality TB management services to the large number of people who have TB outside their lungs,” said Dr S K Sharma, Professor and Head of the Department, Internal Medicine, AIIMS.

Outside lungs, people also suffer from TB in their Central Nervous System (CNS) or the brain, abdomen, lymph node, bones and also in genital areas. Women suffering from infertility are especially prone to urogenital TB. 

The other vice of the disease is people across age-groups are vulnerable to fall prey to it.

Also, a high mortality rate prevails among patients suffering from extra pulmonary TB because they seek treatment at an advanced stage of the treatment.

“TB outside lungs has been a neglected problem. Patients come at a complicated stage of the disease. Due to the lack of a framework of guidelines, doctors often do not suspect the symptoms as a cause of extra pulmonary TB,” said Dr Kuldeep Kumar, Assistant Professor, Medicine, AIIMS.

The lack of diagnostic services like CT scan, MRI at the district-level centres add to the woes of patients.

The guidelines will educate the doctors at both primary and secondary level healthcare centres to detect the symptoms early. 

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