Clinical and laboratory aspects of the diagnosis and management of cutaneous and subcutaneous infections caused by rapidly growing mycobacteria

  • R. J. KothavadeEmail author
  • R. S. Dhurat
  • S. N. Mishra
  • U. R. Kothavade


Rapidly growing mycobacteria (RGM) are known to cause pulmonary, extra-pulmonary, systemic/disseminated, and cutaneous and subcutaneous infections. The erroneous detection of RGM that is based solely on microscopy, solid and liquid cultures, Bactec systems, and species-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) may produce misleading results. Thus, inappropriate therapeutic measures may be used in dermatologic settings, leading to increased numbers of skin deformity cases or recurrent infections. Molecular tools such as the sequence analyses of 16S rRNA, rpoB and hsp65 or PCR restriction enzyme analyses, and the alternate gene sequencing of the superoxide dismutase (SOD) gene, dnaJ, the 16S-23S rRNA internal transcribed spacers (ITS), secA, recA1, dnaK, and the 32-kDa protein gene have shown promising results in the detection of RGM species. PCR restriction enzyme analyses (PRA) work better than conventional methods at identifying species that are closely related. Recently introduced molecular tools such as matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS), pyrosequencing, DNA chip technology, and Beacon probes–combined PCR probes have shown comparable results in the detection of various species of RGM. Closely related RGM species (e.g., Mycobacterium fortuitum, M. chelonae, and M. abscessus) must be clearly differentiated using accurate molecular techniques because their therapeutic responses are species-specific. Hence, this paper reviews the following aspects of RGM: (i) its sources, predisposing factors, clinical manifestations, and concomitant fungal infections; (ii) the risks of misdiagnoses in the management of RGM infections in dermatological settings; (iii) the diagnoses and outcomes of treatment responses in common and uncommon infections in immunocompromised and immunocompetent patients; (iv) conventional versus current molecular methods for the detection of RGM; (v) the basic principles of a promising MALDI-TOF MS, sampling protocol for cutaneous or subcutaneous lesions and its potential for the precise differentiation of M. fortuitum, M. chelonae, and M. abscessus; and (vi) improvements in RGM infection management as described in the recent 2011 Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) guidelines, including interpretation criteria of molecular methods and antimicrobial drug panels and their break points [minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs)], which have been highlighted for the initiation of antimicrobial therapy.


Clarithromycin Tigecycline Drug Susceptibility Testing Clofazimine Cutaneous Infection 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Conflict of interest

No conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. J. Kothavade
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • R. S. Dhurat
    • 3
  • S. N. Mishra
    • 4
  • U. R. Kothavade
    • 5
  1. 1.Microbiology Lab, EpcorEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Dermatology, Venereology and LeprologyGrant Medical College and Sir JJ Group of HospitalsMumbaiIndia
  3. 3.Department of Dermatology and STDLTM Medical College & LTMG Hospital, SionMumbaiIndia
  4. 4.Department of DermatologyVenereology and Leprology, TNMC and BYL Nair Charitable HospitalMumbaiIndia
  5. 5.Biological SciencesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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