`Tuberculosis of spine a cause of concern`

Mumbai: Tuberculosis of spine has become a cause of concern for its disastrous and often irreversible complications. Experts today said that early detection and
sustained treatment is required to "tackle" the disease.

"Although tuberculosis of the lungs is more common, tuberculosis of the spine is equally a cause of concern, having disastrous and often irreversible complications," Dr Ram Chaddha, Consultant Spine Surgeon at Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai and also the secretary to Association of Spine Surgeons of India told media today on the World Tuberculosis Day.

"Tuberculosis remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing deaths of several million people each year. Of 30 million people who suffer from tuberculosis all over the world, India accounts for one third of it," he said.

Referred to as Pott`s disease or tuberculosis spondylitis, nearly 1.5 lakh people in India suffer from tuberculosis of spine.

Laddha said with availability of effective drugs coupled with early detection and prompt appropriate treatment, tuberculosis of spine is curable now.

"Once the patient reaches the stage of paralysis, even with good surgical treatment, the recovery may not always be possible," added Dr S Rajasekaran, who is also the President of Association of Spine Surgeons of India. ASSI and IMA have joined hands to educate people about prevention and treatment of spinal problems.

Chaddha said the symptoms of tuberculosis of spine are back pain, low-grade fever, a hump in the back and, in worst cases, paralysis of the limbs. The tuberculosis bacteria invade the vertebrae and induce destruction of the bones of the spine, resulting in pus formation and instability of the spine and appearance of a deformity of the back.

Tuberculosis Spondylitis often causes damage to the spine. It can result in the collapse of vertebrae and fracturing of the bones, he said.

Abscesses and tissue formation can narrow the spinal canal, leading to neurological damage. In advanced untreated cases, this can lead to compression of the spinal cord resulting in complete paralysis of both legs and rarely, upper limbs, the doctors said.

There are several ways to diagnose spinal tuberculosis. The doctor will test the range of motion in the spine.

A series of neurological tests may be conducted, and a complete medical history is necessary to diagnose this disease besides blood tests and x-rays.