Tuberculosis of the Temporomandibular Region
Objective: To describe a unique case of extrapulmonary tuberculosis (TB) of the temporomandibular area focusing on its insidious and destructive course over a 2-year period with insights into the diagnostic and therapeutic pitfalls encountered throughout its clinical development.
Study Design: Case Report
Setting: Tertiary Government Hospital
Results: A 33-year old man initially presented with right pre-auricular swelling and trismus that were unresponsive to antibiotic therapy. On subsequent follow-ups, initial symptoms were accompanied by a non-healing right pre-auricular wound, right ear discharge, trismus, and right facial paralysis (House-Brackmann III). Cranial and temporal bone computed tomography scans revealed osteolytic destruction of the right temporomandibular region extending to the auditory canal and of the right mastoid bone extending to the right mandibular condyle and parotid. Infected malignancy of the parotid, mandible and temporal bone were considered, but definitive diagnosis from an incision biopsy revealed caseating granulomatous inflammation consistent with tuberculosis. He was started on anti-tuberculosis medications with significant resolution of pre-auricular swelling, non-healing pre-auricular wound, facial paralysis and ear discharge but minimal improvement in mouth opening.
Conclusion: Tuberculosis of temporomandibular region is rare and is associated with nonspecific manifestations. Delay in diagnosing and initiating appropriate treatment can lead to morbidity and serious complications involving destruction of the temporal bone, middle ear, mandible and parotid gland over its progression. A high index of suspicion by the physician and awareness of the patient’s health seeking behaviors could have aided in the early diagnosis and treatment of this extrapulmonary TB.
Keywords: tuberculosis, temporomandibular region, pre-auricular swelling, trismus, antituberculosis therapy, facial paralysis, chronic mastoiditis, ear discharge
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