Between 1987 and 1994, seven cases of tuberculous subcutaneous abscesses diagnosed at Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, were studied retrospectively. Three of them had associated underlying medical conditions. Multiple lesions occurred in patients with compromised immune status. Three cases were presented as tumor-like in form, and were tentatively diagnosed as chest wall tumor before mycobacterial and pathologic results were available. Except for two cases which received prolonged chemotherapy due to drug side effects or suspected drug resistance, all our cases responded well to 6 to 12 months of current antituberculosis agents. We concluded that (1) it is sometimes difficult to differentiate subcutaneous tuberculous abscess from chest wall tumor so physicians should bear in mind that tuberculosis could be the cause of such lesion, and that (2) all cases could be treated with a current chemotherapy regimen. Only a small portion of abscess needs repeated aspiration, and surgical incision and excision may not be necessary.
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