Diversity and sources of rapidly growing mycobacteria associated with infections following cardiac surgery

J Infect Dis. 1989 Apr;159(4):708-16. doi: 10.1093/infdis/159.4.708.


Eighty-nine isolates of rapidly growing mycobacteria associated with cardiac bypass-related infections were characterized. Isolates from sporadic infections belonged to eight taxonomic groups and displayed numerous multilocus enzyme genotypes, plasmid profiles, and heavy metal and antibiotic resistance patterns. Compared with 449 noncardiac wound isolates, 45 sporadic cardiac isolates were more likely to be Mycobacterium fortuitum and M. smegmatis and less likely to be M. chelonae. About 80% of cardiac and noncardiac isolates were from southern coastal states. Eight outbreaks of cardiac bypass-related infections were identified. Strains from each outbreak were genotypically distinctive, and five outbreaks involved more than one strain. In two outbreaks, isolates from environmental sources and noncardiac infections were similar or identical to isolates from sternal wound infections. The heterogeneity of these isolates suggests that most isolates are unrelated and are derived from local environmental sources rather than from contaminated commercial surgical materials or devices.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiopulmonary Bypass*
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology
  • Cross Infection / microbiology*
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial
  • Electrophoresis, Agar Gel
  • Endocarditis, Bacterial / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Metals / pharmacology
  • Mycobacterium / classification*
  • Mycobacterium Infections / microbiology*
  • Mycobacterium Infections, Nontuberculous / epidemiology
  • Mycobacterium Infections, Nontuberculous / microbiology*
  • Nontuberculous Mycobacteria / classification*
  • Nontuberculous Mycobacteria / drug effects
  • Nontuberculous Mycobacteria / genetics
  • Nontuberculous Mycobacteria / growth & development
  • Operating Rooms
  • Plasmids
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Sternum
  • Surgical Wound Infection / microbiology


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Metals