BACKGROUND: Most information on bone-joint (BJ)-tuberculosis is based on data from high-incidence areas. We conducted a nationwide register-based analysis of BJ-tuberculosis in Denmark from 1994 to 2011.
METHODS: We linked data from the national tuberculosis surveillance system on BJ-tuberculosis, hospital records, the Danish Hospital and Civil Registration System.
RESULTS: We identified 282 patients with BJ-tuberculosis, 3.6% of all tuberculosis cases (n = 7936). Spinal tuber- culosis was found in 153 of 282 patients (54.3%); 83.3% of all cases were immigrants. Danes were older and had higher Charlson comorbidity index scores than immigrants (P < .01). C-reactive protein and erythrocyte sedimentation rates were elevated in most cases. Median time to diagnosis after first hospital contact was 19.5 days for spinal tuberculosis and 28 days for other forms of BJ-tuberculosis (P = .01). Of patients with spinal tuberculosis, 54/133 (40.6%) had neurologic deficits at admission and 17.3% presented with cauda equina. Diagnosis was culture verified in 87%. (Resistance to any drug was found in 10.2%). Median time on antituberculous treatment for patients with spinal and other forms of BJ-tuberculosis was 9 months and 7 months, respectively (P < .01). Surgery was required in 44.4% patients with spinal tuberculosis and in 32.6% patients with other forms of BJ-tuberculosis (P = .04). Sequelae were reported in 57.5% of patients with spinal tuberculosis and 29.1% of patient with other forms of BJ-tuberculosis (P < .01). One-year mortality was 25.5% among Danes compared with 1.3% among immigrants (P < .01).
CONCLUSIONS: BJ-tuberculosis was rare and seen mainly in younger immigrants in Denmark. More than half of cases were spinal tuberculosis, presenting with more severe symptoms and worse outcome, compared with other forms of BJ-tuberculosis.