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Lymphadenitis by non-tuberculous mycobacteria in children.

BACKGROUND: Non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) constitute an important cause of cervical lymphadenitis in immunocompetent children. The aims of this study were to estimate the incidence of lymphadenitis due to NTM in children in Cyprus and to describe the characteristics, diagnostic approach, management and outcome of such infections.

METHODS: Children aged 1-5 years old, evaluated at Archbishop Makarios III Hospital, Nicosia, Cyprus, from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2016 for lymphadenopathy, were included in the study. All children had positive lymph node culture for NTM.

RESULTS: A total of 22 cases of culture-positive lymphadenitis caused by NTM were reviewed. Patient age ranged from 16 to 55 months. Tuberculin skin test produced an induration in 81.0% of cases (diameter, 4-17 mm). Mycobacterium avium was isolated in 17 cases (77.3%), M. intracellulare in three (13.6%), M. paraffinicum in one (4.5%) and M. kansasii in one case (4.5%). All 22 patients underwent surgical excision of affected nodes. Additional anti-mycobacterial treatment was given when complete excision was not achieved or for post-surgical recurrence. Complications were few and included scar in three children and one case of transient facial nerve palsy.

CONCLUSION: Surgical excision of NTM-infected lymph nodes is an effective diagnostic and therapeutic approach. When total surgical excision is not feasible, a combination of partial excision with a clarithromycin-including drug regimen appears safe, effective and causes milder and fewer complications than surgery alone.

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