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Nerve dysfunction following surgical treatment of cervical non-tuberculous mycobacterial lymphadenitis in children

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Abstract Aim: 

To present our experience of nerve dysfunction following surgical treatment among 126 children with microbiologically verified non-tuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) lymphadenitis. Methods: 

We retrieved data from medical records, and a questionnaire with an invitation to a clinical follow-up was returned by 88 families. Results: 

The time from onset of symptoms to diagnosis was more than 3 months in 24% of subjects. Mycobacterium avium complex was isolated from 105, Mycobacterium malmoense from 12 and Mycobacterium scrofulaceum from one cervical lymph node. A total of 89% of the children underwent surgery and were examined in particular with regard to cranial motor nerve functions. Major persisting nerve dysfunction occurred in 3/51 (6%) children who underwent radical surgery, and minor dysfunction in seven (14%). In nine children, the marginal mandibular branch of the facial nerve was affected, and the accessory nerve was affected in one child. There were no neurological signs in 25 children treated with incision and drainage alone or in 12 followed with observation alone. Healing took >6 months in 2/76 (3%) surgically treated and 3/12 (25%) non-surgically treated children. Conclusion: 

Considering the risk of nerve dysfunction following extirpation, incision with drainage and observation alone should both be included among the management options for cervical NTM lymphadenitis in children.

Keywords: Complications; Lymphadenitis; Mycobacterium avium complex; Non-tuberculous mycobacteria; Treatment

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Astrid Lindgren Children’s Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden 2: Department of Medical Microbiology, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden

Publication date: 2011-02-01

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