Treatment of thoracic actinomycosis: A retrospective analysis of 40 patients

Ann Thorac Med. 2010 Apr;5(2):80-5. doi: 10.4103/1817-1737.62470.


Background: The aim of this study was to evaluate treatment outcomes in patients with thoracic actinomycosis and identify patient characteristics associated with unfavorable responses to antibiotic therapy.

Methods: A retrospective analysis was performed on 40 patients with pathologically confirmed thoracic actinomycosis.

Results: Initial surgical treatment was performed on 17 patients to control severe symptoms such as hemoptysis or rule out lung cancer. Sixteen (94%) patients were successfully treated, including three patients who did not receive postoperative antibiotics, and one patient died of a postoperative complication. The median duration of oral antibiotic therapy after surgery was 3 months. After the diagnosis of actinomycosis, 23 patients began antibiotic therapy. The median duration of oral antibiotic therapy was 5 months. Favorable treatment outcomes were achieved in 18 of these 23 patients (78%), while five (22%) showed unfavorable responses to antibiotic therapy. Surgery was successfully performed in these five patients. The patients with unfavorable responses to antibiotic therapy had a longer duration of symptoms prior to treatment (median, 10 months) as compared to patients with favorable responses (median, 2 months; P = 0.012).

Conclusions: Medical treatment failure is possible in patients with thoracic actinomycosis, and close monitoring is necessary in those who begin antibiotic therapy. In addition, surgical resection may be a valid option for patients who do not respond to antibiotic therapy, with the consideration of the age and comorbid conditions.

Keywords: Actinomycosis; drug therapy; thoracic diseases; treatment outcomes.