Background Despite recent progress, the fast and accurate diagnosis of tuberculous peritonitis (TBP) continues to be a challenge, mainly because of the lack of specific clinical features and the difficulty in isolating the M. tuberculosis. The present study aimed to investigate the role of laparoscopy in the diagnosis of TBP, compared to noninvasive tests. Methods We retrospectively studied 60 patients who had diagnostic laparoscopy for suspected TBP between January 2002 and June 2010. Results Forty-one patients were diagnosed with TBP. In terms of accuracy and predictive value, the visual diagnosis via laparoscope was the most diagnostic test. In the noninvasive tests, both the ascitic adenosine deaminase (ADA) level over 30 U/l, and the ascitic lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) level over 90 U/l had relatively high positive, as well as negative, predictive values. The overall morbidity and mortality rates for laparoscopy were 5 and 5%, respectively. Conclusions Laparoscopy is a rapid and accurate diagnostic test for TBP. However, complications may occur. In older patients with associated conditions, a combination of various noninvasive tests and empirical treatments is needed prior to laparoscopy.
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