Non-Tuberculous Mycobacteria: Classification, Diagnostics, and Therapy

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2017:944:19-25. doi: 10.1007/5584_2016_45.


Non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are species other than those belonging to the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex and do not cause leprosy. NTM are generally free-living organisms that are ubiquitous in the environment. There have been more than 140 NTM species identified to-date. They can cause a wide range of infections, with pulmonary infections being the most frequent (65-90 %). There is growing evidence that the incidence of NTM lung diseases and associated hospitalizations are on the rise, mainly in regions with a low prevalence of tuberculosis. A crucial clinical problem remains the evaluation of NTM significance in relation to the disease, especially in regard to the colonization of the respiratory tract in patients with residual lesions after tuberculosis or bronchiectasis. Clinical and radiographic pictures of mycobacteriosis, as well as therapy, have often similarities to those of tuberculosis. The treatment regimen should be individualized. In addition to antituberculotics, antibiotics are used more frequently. The most common mycobacteria causing lung disease in Slovakia are Mycobacterium avium and Mycobacterium abscessus.

Keywords: Antituberculotics; Diagnosis; Infection; Lung; Mycobacteriosis; Non-tuberculous mycobacteria; Respiratory tract.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Mycobacterium / drug effects
  • Mycobacterium Infections, Nontuberculous / diagnosis*
  • Mycobacterium Infections, Nontuberculous / drug therapy*
  • Mycobacterium Infections, Nontuberculous / epidemiology
  • Mycobacterium Infections, Nontuberculous / microbiology
  • Nontuberculous Mycobacteria / drug effects*
  • Prevalence
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / drug therapy
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / microbiology
  • Slovakia / epidemiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antitubercular Agents