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Tuberculomas - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Management

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Tuberculomas are a form of brain lesions caused by tuberculosis infection. Read the below article to know more.

Written by

Dr. Durga. A. V

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar

Published At June 22, 2023
Reviewed AtJune 23, 2023


Tuberculomas are a form of granuloma, a tiny area of inflamed tissue caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. They are most commonly seen in the brain, although they can also be found in other places of the body. Tuberculomas are a very uncommon tuberculosis consequence that is more likely in persons with compromised immune systems. Depending on their location, they might produce various symptoms, such as seizures, headaches, and localized neurological impairments. Treatment usually consists of a mix of anti-tuberculosis drugs and, in certain cases, surgery. Despite being a serious medical illness, most individuals benefit from early diagnosis and treatment.

What Are Tuberculomas?

Tuberculomas are a type of granuloma, a tiny area of inflammation that occurs in the body due to infection or injury. Tuberculomas are granulomas that grow in the brain due to infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which also causes tuberculosis. Tuberculomas can cause various symptoms depending on where they are and how large they are, including headaches, seizures, limb weakness or numbness, and changes in vision or speech. They can also cause a rise in intracranial pressure, which can be fatal. Tuberculomas are normally treated with a combination of anti-tuberculosis drugs and, in some cases, surgery to remove the diseased tissue. Most persons with tuberculomas can heal without long-term consequences if they receive quick and adequate therapy.

What Are the Causes of Tuberculomas?

  • Tuberculomas are produced by infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which is also responsible for tuberculosis.

  • When an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks and another person inhales the contaminated droplets, the germs can enter the body through the airways.

  • Once within the body, the germs can spread to many organs, including the brain, where they can create tuberculomas.

  • Tuberculomas can also develop due to untreated or uncontrolled tuberculosis infection in the past.

  • A compromised immune system, such as in patients with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) or AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), malnutrition, or other chronic conditions that might impair the immune system's ability to fight infections, is a significant risk factor for developing tuberculomas.

  • Tuberculomas can also form in rare cases due to an allergic reaction to the bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine, which is used to prevent tuberculosis in some countries. This, however, is a rare occurrence.

What Are the Symptoms of Tuberculomas?

The symptoms of tuberculomas vary depending on where the granulomas are located and their size. Some persons with tuberculomas have no symptoms, while others have various neurological problems.

The following are some of the most prevalent tuberculoma symptoms:

  • Headaches.

  • Seizures.

  • Limb sluggishness or numbness.

  • Vision or speech changes.

  • Problems with balance or coordination.

  • Confusion or cognitive impairment.

  • Vomiting and nausea.

  • Chills and fever.

  • Sweating at night.

If the tuberculomas increase pressure within the skull, it can result in more serious symptoms such as altered consciousness, coma, or even death. If one has any signs of tuberculomas or a history of tuberculosis infection or exposure, one must seek medical assistance immediately. Early detection and treatment help to avoid problems and promote better outcomes.

How to Diagnose Tuberculomas?

Tuberculomas can be difficult to diagnose since their symptoms are similar to those of other neurological diseases. However, various diagnostic tests can assist in the identification of tuberculomas, including:

  1. Imaging Examination: Such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans can detect tuberculomas in the brain.

  2. Biopsy: A tiny sample of tuberculoma tissue can be extracted and tested for the presence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis germs.

  3. Blood Tests: Blood tests can detect antibodies to the microorganisms that cause tuberculosis or look for indications of infection.

  4. Tuberculin Skin Test: A small amount of tuberculin, a protein derived from the germs that cause tuberculosis, is injected beneath the skin. A positive test result indicates that you have been exposed to the bacteria.

  5. Spinal Tap: A spinal tap, also known as a lumbar puncture, is used to acquire a sample of the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. This fluid can be examined for the presence of tuberculosis-causing microorganisms.

To achieve an accurate diagnosis and suitable treatment, it is critical to collaborate with a healthcare provider that has experience identifying and treating tuberculomas.

What Is the Treatment Plan for Tuberculomas?

  • Tuberculomas are a form of tuberculosis infection that usually affects the brain but can also affect other sections of the body.

  • Tuberculomas are treated with a mix of drugs and, in certain cases, surgery.

  • A long course of antibiotics, often containing a combination of four drugs, such as isoniazid, rifampin, ethambutol, and pyrazinamide, is the basis of treatment for tuberculomas. Depending on the severity of the illness and the patient's response to treatment, this treatment often lasts six to nine months.

  • Surgery may be required in some circumstances, especially if the tuberculoma is big or producing considerable symptoms.

  • The purpose of surgery is to remove as much contaminated tissue as possible, which can aid in recovery and reduce the risk of infection.

  • Aside from medication and surgery, people with tuberculomas should also obtain enough rest, eat a balanced diet, and avoid activities that could increase the risk of further infection or complications.

  • Close monitoring by a healthcare practitioner is also required to verify that the infection responds to treatment and that any side effects from the drug are effectively controlled.


Tuberculomas are a tuberculosis infection that can be extremely difficult to treat. These infections commonly affect the brain, but they can also affect other regions of the body. Depending on their location and size, Tuberculomas can cause various symptoms, including headaches, seizures, and cognitive impairment. The most common treatment for tuberculomas is a lengthy course of antibiotics that lasts between six and nine months. This treatment may include a mix of medications, and patients must take their medication exactly as prescribed and finish the entire course of treatment to ensure that the infection is completely eradicated. Surgery may be required in some cases to remove infected tissue.

This is especially crucial if the tuberculoma is big or causing severe symptoms. A healthcare practitioner should closely monitor patients with tuberculomas throughout their treatment. Regular imaging scans to check the progression of the infection, as well as blood tests to monitor drug levels and liver function, may be required. Most people with tuberculomas can recover and escape significant consequences with adequate therapy and care. However, treatment should begin as soon as feasible to maximize the possibilities of a favorable outcome. In addition to medical therapy, lifestyle factors such as adequate rest, a good diet, and avoiding activities that may raise the risk of additional infection are critical for a successful recovery.

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Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar
Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar

Pulmonology (Asthma Doctors)


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