THE DIAGNOSIS of tuberculous peritonitis can be difficult. It is often not considered in the differential diagnosis of abdominal disorders, particularly when tuberculosis is not present elsewhere. For this reason we wish to review the clinical patterns of tuberculous peritonitis, to emphasize the clinical and laboratory findings that may point to its presence, and to call attention to those factors which seem most likely to prove misleading in making this diagnosis.
This study is based upon a review of the hospital records of 31 patients diagnosed as having tuberculous peritonitis at the University of Illinois Research and Educational Hospitals between the years of 1953 and 1963. The diagnosis was established in 25 patients by the demonstration of acidfast bacilli morphologically typical of Mycobacterium tuberculosis on culture or guinea pig inoculation of the ascitic fluid or in the microscopic sections of peritoneal tubercles. Six other patients had caseous granulomas.