Non-tuberculous mycobacterial infections of the hand

Chir Main. 2015 Feb;34(1):18-23. doi: 10.1016/j.main.2014.12.004. Epub 2014 Dec 30.


Non-tuberculous mycobacterial infections of the hand are difficult to treat and require a long time before remission. But how long should we wait to see an improvement? To answer this question, the published scientific literature was reviewed in English, French and German. Tuberculosis, arthritis and osteomyelitis cases were excluded. A total of 241 non-tuberculous mycobacterial hand infections in 38 scientific publications were retrieved. Most were case reports or series. The median age of the patients was 58years and one third was female. Patients were immunocompromised in 17 episodes. The most common species were Mycobacterium marinum in 198 episodes (82%), followed by M. chelonae in 13 cases (5%). There were no cases of mixed infection. Most infections were aquatic in origin and community-acquired, and were treated with a combination of surgical debridement and long-duration systemic combination antibiotic therapy (14 different regimens; no local antibiotics) for a median duration of 6months. The median number of surgical procedures was 2.5 (range 1-5). Clinical success was not immediate: a median period of 3months (range 2-6) was necessary before the first signs of improvement were observed. The majority (173 cases; 76%) remained entirely cured after a median follow-up time of 1.7years (range, 1-6). Only two microbiological recurrences occurred (1%). However, 49 patients (21%) had long-term sequelae such as pain, stiffness and swelling. The approach of long-duration antibiotic treatment in combination with repeated surgery for mycobacterial soft tissue infections of the hand leads to few recurrences. However, clinical success is not immediate and may take up to 3months.

Type of study: Therapeutic study: systematic review of level III studies.

Level of evidence: III.

Keywords: Mycobacteria; Mycobactéries; Tenosynovitis; Traitement; Treatment; Ténosynovite.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Hand
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycobacterium Infections, Nontuberculous* / diagnosis
  • Mycobacterium Infections, Nontuberculous* / therapy