Clinicopathological features and outcomes of pythiosis

Int J Infect Dis. 2018 Jun:71:33-41. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2018.03.021. Epub 2018 Apr 10.


Objectives: Vascular pythiosis is a life-threatening infection caused by the oomycete Pythium insidiosum. This article reports the clinical presentation, serodiagnosis, pathology, and outcomes seen at the authors' institution.

Methods: The cases of patients with proven vascular pythiosis at Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand from January 2006 to December 2016 were analyzed retrospectively.

Results: Thirteen patients were analyzed, eight of whom had underlying thalassemias. Of the remaining five patients, one had aplastic anemia, one had myelodysplasia, one had acute leukemia, one had cirrhosis, and one had alcoholism. Neutropenic patients showed a rapid clinical deterioration. Atypical presentations including carotid arteritis, aneurysm, brain abscess, and stroke occurred in the non-thalassemic patients. Serology yielded positive results in all cases, with a rapid turnaround time. Serology has the advantage of providing a presurgical diagnosis, which allows prompt surgery and clinical cure to be achieved. Pathology revealed a neutrophilic response in the acute phase and a later shift to granuloma. Immunotherapy in combination with itraconazole and terbinafine was given. The amputation rate was 77%, and disease-free surgical margins were achieved in five cases (38%). The mortality rate was 31%.

Conclusions: This study highlights new aspects of pythiosis, such as the unusual host, clinical presentation, serology as a marker for rapid diagnosis, histopathology, and outcomes. Early recognition of the disease with prompt multimodality treatment may improve survival.

Keywords: Arteritis; Pythiosis; Pythium insidiosum.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amputation, Surgical / statistics & numerical data
  • Animals
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Itraconazole / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Naphthalenes / therapeutic use*
  • Pythiosis / diagnosis*
  • Pythiosis / drug therapy
  • Pythiosis / epidemiology
  • Pythium / isolation & purification*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Terbinafine
  • Thailand / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Naphthalenes
  • Itraconazole
  • Terbinafine