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Background/objectives: Assessing the clinical relevance of non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) isolated from respiratory samples can be challenging. The epidemiology and pathogenicity of NTM species vary geographically. We aimed to outline the clinical relevance and associated radiological patterns of NTM species isolated in Belgium. Methods: We performed a retrospective multicentre analysis of all patients identified from the laboratory database with > 1 respiratory sample growing NTM from January 2010 through December 2017. We collected clinical, radiological and microbiological data through medical record review and assessed clinical relevance according to ATS/IDSA criteria for NTM pulmonary disease (NTM-PD). Results: Of the 384 unique patients, 60% were male, 56% had a smoking history and 61% had pre-existing lung disease. Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC), M. gordonae and M. xenopi were the most frequently isolated species: 53, 15 and 8% respectively. 43% of patients met ATS/IDSA criteria, of whom 28% presented with fibrocavitary disease. Weight loss, fever, nodular bronchiectatic and fibrocavitary lesions on chest CT, and a positive acid-fast bacilli (AFB) stain were significantly associated with NTM-PD. The species with the highest pathogenic potential were M. abscessus (11/12), M. malmoense (6/7) and M. intracellulare (41/64). Conclusion: In our study, MAC was the most commonly isolated NTM species, but M. abscessus and M. malmoense showed the highest probability of being clinically relevant. Clinical relevance varied not only by species but also by radiological findings on chest CT and AFB staining. Clinicians should consider these elements in their treatment decision making. Prospective data including clinical outcome are needed to provide more robust evidence.
Vande Weygaerde, Y., Cardinaels, N., Bomans, P., Chin, T., Boelens, J., André, E., … Lorent, N. (2019). Clinical relevance of pulmonary non-tuberculous mycobacterial isolates in three reference centres in Belgium: A multicentre retrospective analysis. BMC Infectious Diseases, 19(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12879-019-4683-y