Nontuberculous mycobacterial cervicofacial lymphadenitis--a review and proposed classification system.
ABSTRACT To describe a clinical staging system for nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) cervicofacial lymphadenitis that has both diagnostic and therapeutic implications.
A Medline database search was performed using key words "nontuberculous mycobacteria". All articles pertaining to nontuberculous mycobacterial cervicofacial lymphadenitis were reviewed for data evaluation regarding diagnosis and treatment methodologies.
Nontuberculous cervicofacial lymphadenitis infections pass through distinctly segmented clinical phases. In Stage I, a painless mass presents with notable increase in vascularity. Stage II is characterized by liquefaction of the affected lymph node, causing the mass to appear fluctuant. Significant skin changes characterize Stage III, whereby overlying skin may develop violaceous discoloration and become notably thinner, or parchment-like, with a "shiny" appearance. During Stage IV, the lesion fistulizes to the skin surface causing a draining wound.
While nontuberculous mycobacterial cervicofacial lymphadenitis has typically been thought of as a surgical disease, further characterization is warranted. We present a new classification system for appraising the clinical stages of nontuberculous mycobacterial cervicofacial lymphadenitis that may be used as part of a greater approach to disease management: (1) after other causes have been ruled out, the possibility of a tuberculous scrofula must be eliminated, and the degree of diagnostic suspicion must be categorized; (2) the clinical stage of the infection can be determined using the classification system described; and (3) a stage-specific treatment may be chosen based on the individual patient.