Refractory Tuberculosis

Understanding Refractory Tuberculosis

Refractory Tuberculosis (TB) is a type of TB in which patients fail to respond to standard anti-tubercular treatments. The treatment failure in the case of Refractory Tuberculosis is due to drug resistance influenced by genetic mutations, drug disabilities or poor drug bioavailability. Such patients require an extended course of therapy.

Causes of Refractory Tuberculosis

The exact cause of Refractory Tuberculosis is still unknown, however some factors that may lead to or contribute to the occurrence of this form of the disease include:

  • Incorrect diagnosis of tuberculosis
  • Incorrect regimen of anti-tuberculosis drugs
  • The presence of drug-resistant strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Inadequate drug absorption
  • Poor patient compliance
  • Inadequate nutrition or HIV infection

Symptoms of Refractory Tuberculosis

Patients with refractory tuberculosis may experience some of the classic signs and symptoms of TB such as night sweats and fever. They may also may also experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Appetite loss
  • Unexplained swelling of the body
  • Readiness to collapse (collapsing tendencies)
  • Chronic chest pain
  • Coughing up blood

Diagnosis and Treatment of Refractory Tuberculosis

Patients suspected of having Refractory Tuberculosis should undergo a sputum sample culture and sensitivity test to identify the strain of bacteria present as well as drug sensitivities. Once the strain of bacteria has been identified, a treatment regime designed to eradicate the bacteria can be administered.

The aim of the treatment is not only to eradicate the bacteria, but also to address any underlying causes such as drug resistance, poor patient compliance or drug bioavailability. The treatment plan may include a combination of medications, interventions and supportive care.