, Volume 471, Issue 10, pp 3372-3380
Date: 14 May 2013

Tuberculosis of the Pubic Symphysis: Four Unusual Cases and Literature Review

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The incidence of extrapulmonary tuberculosis (TB) has increased in the chemotherapeutic era owing to the increasing presence of immunodeficiency disorders. Pubic symphysis TB, although uncommon, is again important as these infections once were in the prechemotherapeutic era.

Case Description

We present the cases of four patients with pubic symphysis TB in which one patient had a horseshoe-shaped abscess in the pubic region and another had a double lesion of the pelvis leading to vertical shear-type pathologic displacement. Three patients were diagnosed by cytology and PCR. These patients were treated successfully with antituberculosis treatment with or without minimal surgical intervention despite their late presentation and advanced disease. The fourth patient remains under treatment and followup.

Literature Review

We identified 40 patients with TB of the pubic symphysis in the English language medical literature. Of these 40 patients, only five are from India despite TB being endemic in this country. Followup information is available for 32 of the 40 patients with followups ranging from 1 to 84 months (mean of approximataly 20 months).

Purposes and Clinical Relevance

We suspect TB of the pubic symphysis is increasing in frequency owing to drug resistance, use of biologics, immunomodulating drugs, and anticancer drugs. Therefore, it is important for clinicians to have a high index of suspicion in patients at risk. Initially patients may be asymptomatic or present with adductor region pain or spasm, sacroiliac strain, limp, or a hypogastric, inguinal, or thigh mass that mimics an inguinal hernia, genitourinary, abdominal, or thigh tumor.


It is important to diagnose and treat pubic TB early in the course of the disease before the destructive stage. After relevant investigations most patients can be treated with antitubercular drugs with or without a minor surgical procedure.

Each author certifies that he or she, or a member of his or her immediate family, has no funding or commercial associations (eg, consultancies, stock ownership, equity interest, patent/licensing arrangements, etc.) that might pose a conflict of interest in connection with the submitted article.
All ICMJE Conflict of Interest Forms for authors and Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research editors and board members are on file with the publication and can be viewed on request.
Each author certifies that his or her institution approved the reporting of this case report, that all investigations were conducted in conformity with ethical principles of research, and that informed consent for participation in the study was obtained.