Controversies in classification of peritoneal tuberculosis and a proposal for clinico-radiological classification

Introduction: Peritoneal tuberculosis is a common type of abdominal tuberculosis. The most commonly used classification divides peritoneal tuberculosis into wet-ascitic type, dry-plastic type, and fixed-fibrotic type.

Areas covered: We performed a systematic literature search on the definitions of existing classification of peritoneal tuberculosis. The literature search identified confusion in the classification of peritoneal tuberculosis. The classification system also fails to classify some patterns of peritoneal tuberculosis like an abdominal cocoon and a substantial overlap in various categories was found. The impact of the present classification on clinical management is unclear. Lack of prospective studies and the presence of heterogeneity in reporting add to the confusion.

Expert opinion: We suggest that a uniform system which better classifies peritoneal tuberculosis and helps in clinical management should be used in future studies. We propose a simple, clinico-radiological classification of peritoneal tuberculosis into two types: distension-dominant and/or pain-obstruction dominant based on the clinical presentation. This approach will be relevant to clinicians as patients with the pain-obstruction dominant presentation are more likely to receive surgical interventions and may benefit from additional measures aimed to reduce fibrosis-like addition of steroids to ATT. Future studies should aim to validate the proposed clinico-radiological classification in patients with peritoneal tuberculosis.