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To describe the clinical features of head and neck tuberculosis in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Retrospective, observational study.
The study included 358 patients who received a histopathologically and/or microbiologically confirmed diagnosis of tuberculosis in the head and neck region between 1 January 2007 and 31 December 2011.
A total of 358 new cases of head and neck tuberculosis were identified during the study period, involving 196 males (54.7 per cent) and 162 females (45.3 per cent). These patients had a median age of 31 years (range, 3 months to 83 years). Testing for human immunodeficiency virus was positive in 233 (65.1 per cent) and negative in 125 (34.9 per cent). Right-sided cervical lymphadenitis was the commonest form of presentation of head and neck tuberculosis.
In this study, right-sided cervical lymphadenopathy was the commonest presentation of head and neck tuberculosis in both human immunodeficiency virus infected and non-infected individuals. Head and neck tuberculosis should not be excluded solely based on a normal chest X-ray, nor on the absence of constitutional symptoms.
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