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Tuberculosis

About TB

07/27/2009

Question:

Is it possible to develop isolated form of TB in the brain as a brain lesion, or is it always nessecary to have source of the infection in another part of the body (mainly lungs)? Thank you.

Answer:

Yes, it is possible for tuberculosis to appear as an isolated lesion in the brain without evidence of active infection elsewhere in the body. Tuberculosis infection is spread through the air. The initial exposure to tuberculosis is always through the lung. Once exposed to TB a small infection in the lung develops and can get into the blood stream. The tuberculosis infection can then go anywhere in the body. After about 6 weeks the immune system recognizes the infection and halts its progression. Years later the infection can wake up anywhere in the body that it went. This usually occurs in the lungs, a lymph node, the lining of the lung, but can also occur elsewhere. Tuberculosis in the brain is somewhat unusual, but can certainly occur.

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Response by:

Catherine A Curley, MD, MS Catherine A Curley, MD, MS
Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University