Jeremy D. Young, MD


Differentiating colonization from infection can be difficult Nontuberculous mycobacterial infections: Diagnosis and treatment key words: Pulmonary infections, Nontuberculous mycobacteria, Mycobacterium avium complex, Rapidly growing mycobacteria

January 01, 2007

abstract: Pulmonary disease caused by nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) can be challenging to diagnose and manage. Patients typically present with nonspecific symptoms, such as cough and fever, and they often have underlying lung disease, which further complicates both diagnosis and treatment. To avoid treating pseudoinfection, the diagnosis should be based on a combination of the history and results of physical examination, radiographic imaging, and smears and cultures of at least 3 sputum samples. Occasionally, it is necessary to perform bronchoalveolar lavage or obtain tissue via transbronchial or open lung biopsy for histopathology and to assess for tissue invasion. Treatment involves a long course of often costly multiple antimycobacterial drugs. However, treatment with the second-generation macrolides, clarithromycin and azithromycin, has significantly improved cure rates for specific NTM infections. (J Respir Dis. 2007;28(1):7-18)