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Mayo Clin Proc. 1999 Jan;74(1):45-51.

Rapidly growing mycobacterial lung infection in association with esophageal disorders.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


Esophageal or other swallowing disorders complicated by lipoid pneumonia are reported to be associated with pulmonary infections caused by rapidly growing mycobacteria. Herein we describe a 63-year-old woman with achalasia of the esophagus complicated by lung infection with Mycobacterium chelonae and a 47-year-old man in whom long-term ingestion of mineral oil was complicated by lipoid pneumonia and M. fortuitum lung infection. A MEDLINE search of English language publications from 1966 to 1997 revealed 18 cases of lung infections caused by rapidly growing mycobacteria in patients with esophageal disorders. Of these 18 patients and our 2 patients, 11 were men and 9 were women (mean age, 50 years). Achalasia was present in 11 patients, and 6 had lipoid pneumonia without evidence of esophageal disorders. Three patients had lipoid pneumonia caused by lipoid ingestion in the setting of achalasia or another swallowing disorder. In 14 patients, lung infection was caused by M. fortuitum; in 5, M. chelonae; and in 1, a non-M. fortuitum rapidly growing mycobacterial infection. The most common clinical feature was fever, and the most common roentgenologic abnormality was the presence of unilateral or bilateral and patchy or dense infiltrates. The sputum was the most common source of isolation of rapidly growing mycobacteria. Achalasia and lipoid pneumonia are important risk factors for the development of lung infections caused by rapidly growing mycobacteria. Treatment of the esophageal disease might prevent occurrence of and facilitate recovery from these infections.

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