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Int J Mycobacteriol. 2019 Apr-Jun;8(2):157-161. doi: 10.4103/ijmy.ijmy_40_19.

Laboratory diagnosis of nontuberculous mycobacteria in a Belgium Hospital.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, Institute of Experimental and Clinical Research, Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium.
Department of Microbiology, Université Catholique de Louvain, Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc, Brussels, Belgium.



Nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) have been identified in human pulmonary and extrapulmonary infections and are increasing globally, which makes it challenging to identify them. This article reports our experience with the laboratory identification of NTM in clinical practice among pulmonary and extrapulmonary samples received in our routine work.


The study was conducted at the Université Catholique de Louvain at the Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc, Brussels, Belgium, from 2015 to 2018. A total of 386 clinical samples were collected from patients suspected of having pulmonary or extrapulmonary mycobacterial infections. Routine laboratory methods phenotypic and molecular tests were performed.


The majority of NTM species were isolated from pulmonary samples (68%). The most prevalent species identified were Mycobacterium chimaera_intracellulare group (32%), followed by Mycobacterium avium complex (21%), Mycobacterium abscessus complex (18%), Mycobacterium gordonae (9%), and Mycobacterium chelonae (4%). In extrapulmonary samples, M. avium and M. chimaera_intracellulare were the most frequently isolated.


The species diversity of NTM found in our setting suggests the importance of the use of new modern methods for accurate identification of NTM at species level and in some case at subspecies level for the proper treatment and management of patients.


Culture; diagnosis; matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight; mycobacteria; sequencing

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