, Volume 36, Issue 10, pp 1063-1067
Date: 12 Aug 2006

The sonographic characteristics of nontuberculous mycobacterial cervicofacial lymphadenitis in children

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Abstract

Background

Nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are a common cause of chronic cervicofacial lymphadenitis in young children. The differential diagnosis includes other infections, lymphoepithelial cysts and malignancies.

Objective

To assess the sonographic findings of NTM cervicofacial lymphadenitis in children.

Materials and methods

We analysed the sonograms of cervicofacial lymph nodes of 145 children with microbiologically proven NTM lymphadenitis.

Results

The size of the involved lymph nodes ranged from 1.9 cm to 4.4 cm. Most of the NTM patients (85%) presented in a stage of lymph node fluctuation with violaceous skin discoloration. On sonography, marked decreased echogenicity was seen in all cases. In 133 of the patients (92%) liquefaction with intranodal cystic necrosis, nodal matting and adjacent soft-tissue oedema were present. 66 children received antibiotic treatment, and the other children underwent surgical excision of the involved lymph nodes. In 69% of the patients successfully treated with antibiotics, multiple intranodal calcifications were present on sonography after 1 year.

Conclusions

Sonographic findings can provide additional diagnostic clues for NTM lymphadenitis in childhood. A marked decrease of echogenicity in the early stages, with intranodal liquefaction in the advanced stages, are universal features, albeit not entirely specific. Multiple intranodal calcifications are rather characteristic of end-stage mycobacterial infection.