Nontuberculous mycobacterial infections: Diagnosis and treatment

Jeremy D. Young, Ashwin Balagopal, Niveditha S. Reddy, Larry S. Schlesinger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Pulmonary disease caused by nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) can be challenging to diagnose and manage. Patients typically present with nonspecific symptoms; such as cough and fever, and they often have underlying lung disease, which further complicates both diagnosis and treatment. To avoid treating pseudoinfection, the diagnosis should be based on a combination of the history and results of physical examination, radiographic imaging, and smears and cultures of at least 3 sputum samples. Occasionally, it is necessary to perform bronchoalveolar lavage or obtain tissue via transbronchial or open lung biopsy for histopathology and to assess for tissue invasion. Treatment involves a long course of often costly multiple antimycobacterial drugs. However, treatment with the second-generation macrolides, clarithromycin and azithromycin, has significantly improved cure rates for specific NTM infections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-18
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Respiratory Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007


  • Mycobacterium avium complex
  • Nontuberculous mycobacteria
  • Pulmonary infections
  • Rapidly growing mycobacteria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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