Vietnam hospital cures rare case of tuberculosis

By Le Phuong   September 21, 2016 | 12:00 am PT
Vietnam hospital cures rare case of tuberculosis
A woman who has been cured of a rare genetic disorder and its hepatic complication with her doctor at Cho Ray Hospital. Photo by Le Phuong/VnExpress
The patient spent three years fighting a genetic disorder and then hepatic TB.

Cho Ray, a leading public hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, has announced it has successfully treated a rare case of hepatic tuberculosis caused by a genetic disorder, reportedly only the second successful case in the world.

The hospital on Tuesday said it had cured a woman with nodular hepatic tuberculosis, an unusual complication found while she was being treated for Wilson’s disease, which is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder in which copper accumulates in tissues.

The previous patient cured of the disease was a 16-year-old Moroccan in 2014.

The Vietnamese patient, 20, from the Mekong Delta’s Dong Thap Province, was admitted in 2013 with amnesia and liver damage, which darkened her skin and caused acne. Her eyes also had a strange color due to copper accumulation.

Doctor Le Huu Phuoc, a liver expert at the hospital, said the patient was first diagnosed with Wilson’s disease, a rare condition that only occurs in one in every 30,000 people.

She appeared to have recovered after 18 months of treatment, but an ultrasound scan on her stomach six months later found a tumor on her liver 30mm in diameter. A biopsy identified the tumor as hepatic tuberculosis, a rare and sometimes fatal complication which usually occurs only in people with weak immune systems like those with HIV.

“When we found it was hepatic tuberculosis, we were very surprised because that is extremely rare,” Phuoc said.

His colleague Nguyen Thanh Xuan said hepatic tuberculosis is rare as organs are not a suitable environment for the tuberculosis bacteria. She said medication prescribed for Wilson’s disease could have shut down her immune system and allowed the bacteria to take hold.

The patient has now properly recovered and can return to school, but she will need regular checks for the rest of her life to prevent dangerous complications, doctors said.

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