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Sante. 2008 Apr-Jun;18(2):77-82. doi: 10.1684/san.2008.0107.

[Pelvic actinomycosis in Tunisia: five cases].

[Article in French]

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Service de gynécologie obstétrique A Centre de maternité et de néonatologie de Tunis 1002 Tunis, Tunisie.


Actinomycosis is a rare suppurative disease due to Actinomyces species. These Gram-positive, non-acid fast anaerobic filamentous bacteria are normal inhabitants of the human body, tending to reside in the oropharynx and bowel but are occasionally found in the vagina. Pelvic actinomycosis is a rare bacterial disease in women. Clinical manifestations are various and non specific and may be acute or chronic. No consensus exists for treatment. We reviewed files and identified all five cases of pelvic actinomycosis managed at Obstetrics and Gynaecology department "A" at the Maternity Center of Tunis over an eight-year period (1998-2005). The women's average age was 39.2 years. One patient was menopausal and consulted for bleeding. The other four patients were younger and had all been using an intrauterine device (IUD) for contraception. They presented with acute clinical manifestations. Their main symptom was pelvic pain. Three women had fever, and two presented with urinary tract obstruction. All patients had surgery. A pelvic abscess was found in four cases. Laparoscopic management was possible in only one case. Laparotomy was necessary in the other four. Four women had adnexectomies, two with hysterectomy. Digestive complications occurred in three cases. Actinomycosis was diagnosed only after surgery, by the histological examination. This series confirms the difficulties encountered in the management of pelvic actinomycosis. We review the recent literature and describe the diagnostic and therapeutic procedures currently recommended. The relationship between pelvic actinomycosis and IUDs, the most common method of contraception in Tunisia, is clearly established. Clinical diagnosis of pelvic actinomycosis is difficult because the symptoms are non-specific. Laboratory tests can help by showing serious inflammation, however. Imaging findings are also non-specific and may suggest an abscess or an inflammatory or neoplastic process. Interventional radiology, specifically CT- or ultrasound-guided aspiration biopsy can facilitate diagnosis, which in any case requires a histological examination. Treatment of pelvic actinomycosis is not standardized and depends on clinical form. Medical treatment is based on long-term penicillin G. It is always necessary and may be used alone in cases of preoperative diagnosis. Surgery should be offered only in resistant cases and should always be followed by long-term antibiotic treatment. The prognosis of correctly treated pelvic actinomycosis is generally good.

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