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Renal Tuberculosis: Unveiling the Silent Threat to Kidney Health

Home > Blogs > Renal Tuberculosis: Unveiling the Silent Threat to Kidney Health

Renal Tuberculosis: Unveiling the Silent Threat to Kidney Health

Renal Sciences | by Dr. Pankaj Kumar Gupta | Published on 18/01/2024


Have you been experiencing difficulty while urinating or frequent urination? Well, this is a sign of renal tuberculosis also known as kidney tuberculosis. However, this condition is known to be an uncommon form of TB affecting the kidneys. This condition also occurs due to the same bacteria that causes lung tuberculosis. 

It is a well-known fact that tuberculosis is an extremely contagious disease and very common across the world. If studies by WHO are to be believed, then more than 10.6 million people will be affected by tuberculosis only in the year 2021. However, not too many cases of renal tuberculosis have not reported to date as it is relatively rare.

As per healthcare experts, around 5-45 TB cases are pulmonary excluded, implying that they are affecting other organs as well. Kidney tuberculosis is a form of TB affecting the urinary and reproductive tract of humans, also referred to as urogenital TB. If you are anxious about the symptoms, book your appointment with the best tuberculosis doctor in Kolkata at the Calcutta Medical Research Institute. You will get a personalized assessment from the highly qualified healthcare experts here. 

In addition, you will find a mindful discussion on kidney tuberculosis in this blog including its symptoms, causes, and treatment options. Please note that this is research-based information and we do not encourage ignoring the doctor’s consultation in any way.

What is Renal Tuberculosis?

Renal tuberculosis is one of the serious infections that are complex to detect. It mainly occurs due to bacteria entering the body through a skin break or cut in the nose or mouth. This condition is an outcome of the same bacteria that causes lung TB, known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. It varies and keeps multiplying in some areas like the kidneys, fallopian tubes, brain, and epididymis. This condition also leads to damaging glomeruli and the medullary interstitium and infects renal papillae at times.

What are Renal Tuberculosis Symptoms?

It is not easy to identify renal tuberculosis symptoms in its initial stage. Some people don’t even experience symptoms and are not even aware until the condition is diagnosed. The symptoms of kidney tuberculosis are known to be insidious and treatable. Hence, the patient must be aware of them. Here are some of the most common symptoms:

  • Frequent urge for urination 
  • Difficult when urinating 
  • Blood in the urine 
  • Fever 
  • Unintentional weight loss 
  • Constant fatigue 
  • Flank pain

What are the causes of Kidney Tuberculosis?

One of the most common causes of renal tuberculosis is Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Other species of this bacteria also can lead to developing this condition. The infection primarily happens because of the bacteria moving through the infected tissue's bloodstream from the lungs to the kidneys. However, the bacteria are identified to be inactive in the kidneys but can affect people who have weak immune systems like HIV patients. 

Other causes of kidney tuberculosis are also there such as lymphatic system transmission and sexual transmission. 

How is Renal Tuberculosis diagnosed?

The diagnosis of renal tuberculosis is initiated by a healthcare provider by asking questions related to the patient’s symptoms, medical history, etc. Once the information is gained, the doctor will involve certain tests to confirm the diagnosis of kidney tuberculosis. Here are these tests: 

  • CT scan- This imaging test is one of the reliable methods to detect renal tuberculosis. It is beneficial to determine the existence of abscesses including granulomas and assess the location. Doctors can detect the risks as well with this test. 
  • MRI- Magnetic resonance imaging test assists in assessing the tuberculoma development and helps in choosing the right anti-tuberculosis drugs ensuring their efficiency. 
  • Urinalysis- It helps in identifying the bacteria and blood's existence. 
  • Urine culture- Doctors can determine the bacteria species in the urine. 
  • TB skin test- It determines whether the patient has renal TB or not. 
  • Blood tests- These involve complete blood count and kidney function tests to detect kidney anomalies.
  • Kidney biopsy- This is one of the most effective tests to confirm the renal tuberculosis diagnosis.

What are the options available for Renal Tuberculosis treatment?

The options for renal tuberculosis treatment primarily involve medications and antibiotics. It causes severe complications if the condition is not treated on time like kidney failure and even death. Here are the treatment options:

  • Medications: It entails anti-tuberculosis medications for kidney tuberculosis treatment. They help in fighting against the bacteria by killing it. Usually, recommended medications are Pyrazinamide, ethambutol, isoniazid, and rifampicin. With these medications, it is easier to prevent the development of contagious bacteria and eliminate them.
  • Surgery: It is also one of the common treatment options for renal tuberculosis. It comprises the removal of contagious tissue or body parts through nephrectomy.

Antibiotics that are recommended for the treatment of kidney tuberculosis can lead to complications in some patients, such as liver damage. Hence, it is essential to get in touch with the doctor and tell them about the symptoms experienced during the treatment like dark urine, nausea, vomiting, pale stool, abdominal pain, appetite loss, jaundice, fatigue, and fever.

What are the prevention tips for Renal Tuberculosis?

Prevention for renal tuberculosis is not always possible, mainly in situations where the infection is an outcome of latent tuberculosis reactivation. Certain tips are there that can help in reducing the risk of catching kidney tuberculosis or other forms of TB. Here are these prevention tips: 

  • Make sure to get the TB vaccination- Bacillus Calmette- Guerin 
  • Ensure maintaining good respiratory hygiene
  • Always try to live in a ventilated living and working space 
  • Don’t go near to the TB patients 
  • Get regular testing and screening to identify the infection in its early stage
  • Focus on maintaining a healthy immune system 
  • Quit smoking and alcohol consumption 
  • Always ensure following infection control measures to stop tuberculosis transmission


Renal tuberculosis is one of the forms of tuberculosis affecting the kidneys. If the condition is left untreated, then it causes severe complications such as kidney damage. However, seeking treatment on time can help in reducing the complications. If you have kidney tuberculosis, make sure to seek immediate medical attention, it is vital to follow the complete treatment course. It helps in getting rid of the bacteria entirely. 



Is kidney tuberculosis curable?

Yes, kidney tuberculosis can be cured with the right treatment on time. 

How to diagnose renal tuberculosis?

Renal tuberculosis is diagnosed through imaging scans like CT scans, MRIs, urinalysis, TB skin tests, kidney biopsy, and other blood tests.