Antibiotic therapy for nontuberculous mycobacterial cervicofacial lymphadenitis

Amber Luong, John E. McClay, Hasan S. Jafri, Orval Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Objectives/Hypothesis: To evaluate the efficacy of antibiotic treatment of nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) cervicofacial lymphadenitis, both as an alternative and as adjuvant to surgical excision. Study Design: Retrospective chart review of pediatric patients with NTM cervicofacial lymphadenitis treated from January 1993 to November 2003 at an academic tertiary care children's hospital. Methods: Fifty-five patients (age range, 15 mo-16 y) with the diagnosis of NTM cervicofacial lymphadenitis by fine-needle aspiration biopsy that had 1) lymph node culture positive for an atypical mycobacteria, 2) histological findings consistent with mycobacterial infection (granulomes) with negative bartonella serological titers, 3) histological stain positive for the presence of acid-fast bacillus in the absence of tuberculous infection, or 4) positive Mantoux tuberculin skin test result with a negative finding on polymerase chain reaction for tuberculous mycobacteria. Clinical response was defined as complete or partial resolution of skin changes and palpable lymphadenopathy in response to antibiotic therapy consisting of macrolide therapy alone or in combination with other anti-mycobacterial pharmaceuticals. Results: Of the 55 children studied, 45 of 55 (82%) with both single and multiple lesions underwent a trial of medical therapy, and 30 of 45 lesions (67%) ranging in size from 1 × 1 to 6 × 5 cm achieved resolution without surgical excision. Of the other 15 patients treated initially with medical therapy, 6 of 15 (40%) responded well to a course of antibiotic therapy before undergoing surgical excision, and 7 of 15 (47%) patients were nonresponsive to antibiotic therapy and required surgical excision to resolve the neck mass. The remaining 2 of 15 patients (13%) proceeded to surgery only after a course of antibiotics of 3 weeks or less. Ten of the 55 patients (18%) underwent surgical excision initially, with 5 of 10 patients (50%) receiving postoperative antibiotics for treatment of residual disease or prevention of recurrence. Conclusion: Some NTM cervicofacial lymphadenitis infections appear to respond to medical therapy alone. A trial of antibiotic therapy might be considered in patients with NTM cervicofacial lymphadenitis before surgical excision or as an adjuvant to surgical excision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1746-1751
Number of pages6
Issue number10 I
StatePublished - Oct 2005


  • Lymphadenitis
  • Nontuberculous mycobacteria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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