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Drug therapy in spinal tuberculosis

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Although the discovery of effective anti-tuberculosis drugs has made uncomplicated spinal tuberculosis a medical disease, the advent of multi-drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis and the co-infection of HIV with tuberculosis have led to a resurgence of the disease recently. The principles of drug treatment of spinal tuberculosis are derived from our experience in treating pulmonary tuberculosis. Spinal tuberculosis is classified to be a severe form of extrapulmonary tuberculosis and hence is included in Category I of the WHO classification. The tuberculosis bacilli isolated from patients are of four different types with different growth kinetics and metabolic characteristics. Hence multiple drugs, which act on the different groups of the mycobacteria, are included in each anti-tuberculosis drug regimen. Prolonged and uninterrupted chemotherapy (which may be ‘short course’ and ‘intermittent’ but preferably ‘directly observed’) is effective in controlling the infection. Spinal Multi-drug-resistant TB and spinal TB in HIV-positive patients present unique problems in management and have much poorer prognosis. Failure of chemotherapy and emergence of drug resistance are frequent due to the failure of compliance hence all efforts must be made to improve patient compliance to the prescribed drug regimen.

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Correspondence to S. Rajasekaran.

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Rajasekaran, S., Khandelwal, G. Drug therapy in spinal tuberculosis. Eur Spine J 22 (Suppl 4), 587–593 (2013).

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