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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Adult and Senior Health Miliary tuberculosis

Miliary tuberculosis

It is bacterial infection caused by mycobacterium tuberculosis which spread from lungs to other parts of the body through blood or lymphatic system. It is also known as disseminated tuberculosis or extrapulmonary tuberculosis.


Miliary tuberculosis mainly occurs in infants and elderly. It also occurs in people with weakened immune system like in HIV. It is characterized by formation of millet like lesions spread throughout the body. It can affect many organs like lungs, liver, spleen.

Miliary tuberculosis affects the following organs

  • Bones and joints
  • Eye
  • Cervical lymph nodes
  • Larynx.
  • Peritoneum
  • Meninges.
  • Small bowel
  • Stomach.
  • Skin
  • Organs of female and male genitourinary organs

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms depend on the organ affected:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Loss of appetite
  • Breathlessness.
  • Joint pain
  • Enlarged liver
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • General discomfort

Tests and diagnosis of miliary tuberculosis

  • Physical examination may reveal enlargement of liver, spleen or lymphnodes
  • Chest x-ray
  • Sputum cultures
  • Tuberculin skin test
  • Bronchoscopy for biopsy
  • Open lung biopsy
  • Bone marrow culture
  • Peripheral smear


  • Adult respiratory distress
  • Resistance to drugs
  • Respiratory failure
  • Relapse of the disease

Treatment of miliary tuberculosis

Antitubercular drugs are used like Rifampicin, Isoniazid, Amikacin, ethambutol, Pyrizanamide, ethionamide, Streptomycin, cycloserine, levofloxacin

Risk factors for miliary tuberculosis

  • HIV infection
  • Transplantation
  • Cancer patients
  • End stage renal disease
  • Malnutrition
  • Diabetes
  • Silicosis