What are the signs of tuberculous infection of the peripheral lymph nodes?

Peripheral lymphadenopathy (enlarged lymph nodes) is common in tuberculosis. Enlarged TB lymph nodes in the neck (cervical, submandibular) are usually due to spread of infection via the lymphatics from the chest. Axillary and inguinal lymph nodes are less commonly affected.

Peripheral TB lymph nodes are typically non tender (unless secondarily infected) and often matted (stuck together). In the neck the lymph nodes enlarge and fuse together becoming stuck to the skin. They may become fluctuant or even ulcerate through the skin to form a chronic sinus.

Rarely human or bovine TB may cause a primary infection of the tonsil with enlarged cervical nodes. TB adenitis with ulceration through the skin is called scrofula.

Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck may be caused by tuberculosis.

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