Primary tuberculosis of the chest wall is rare and its clinical presentation may resemble pyogenic abscess or tumour. The diagnosis is difficult, since smears or cultures of aspirate frequently fail to show tubercle bacilli. Seven cases of primary chest-wall tuberculosis treated between 1973 and 1992 are described. All presented with a progressively enlarging mass. The diagnosis was based on bacteriologic and histologic findings, but definitive diagnosis was obtained before treatment in only two cases. Satisfactory results were obtained with surgical debridement and specific chemotherapy in six cases and with chemotherapy alone in one case. From this limited experience, we suggest that primary chest-wall tuberculosis should initially be treated with a combination regimen of antituberculous chemotherapy, which should take more than 9 months. If the lesion progressively enlarges or secondary infection occurs, however, adequate surgical debridement is also required.
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