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Clinical significance of respiratory isolates for Mycobacterium abscessus complex from pediatric patients


Mycobacterium abscessus complex is the most virulent of rapidly growing mycobacteria causing invasive lung disease. To better delineate clinical pediatric experience and outcomes with M. abscessus complex, we retrospectively gathered 5-year data on M. abscessus complex infection and outcomes in a large, hospital-based pediatric pulmonary center. Patients were selected from the database of the microbiology department at Miller Children's Hospital in Long Beach, CA. Patients had at least one positive pulmonary isolate for M. abscessus complex from February 2006 to May 2011. Treatment modality data were collected and successful therapy of disease was determined as clearance of M. abscessus complex infection after antibiotics proven by culture negative respiratory isolate within at least 12 months of therapy initiation. Two cystic fibrosis patients with M. abscessus complex were identified, one with failed therapy and the other with stable pulmonary status despite persistent isolation. One primary ciliary dyskinesia patient had successful clearance of M. abscessus complex, however is now growing M. avium intracellulare. A patient with no prior medical history was successfully treated with antimycobacterial therapy. Eleven patients with neuromuscular disorders had tracheal aspirates positive for M. abscessus complex. None were treated due to stable lung status and all but two had spontaneous clearance of the mycobacteria. The two remaining persist with sporadic isolation of M. abscessus complex without clinical significance. We concluded that patients with tracheostomy associated M. abscessus complex infections do not appear to require treatment and often have spontaneous resolution. Cystic fibrosis or primary ciliary dyskinesia patients may have clinical disease warranting treatment, but current antimycobacterial therapy has not proven to be completely successful. As M. abscessus complex gains prevalence, standardized guidelines for diagnosis and therapy are needed in the pediatric population. Multicenter cohort analysis is necessary to achieve such guidelines.

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