Cording in Disseminated Mycobacterium chelonae Infection in an Immunocompromised Patient

Lab Med. 2021 May 4;52(3):e50-e52. doi: 10.1093/labmed/lmaa082.


Cording is a phenomenon in which acid fast bacilli grow in parallel and was previously used as a means of presumptive microscopic identification of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB). However, this process has been shown in multiple other nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) species. Here we present the case of an immunocompromised adult who presented with wrist pain, weight loss, and cough. A positron emission tomography scan showed uptake in the right ulna, multiple soft tissue sites, and the left lung. Biopsies and cultures were obtained from multiple sites, and the patient was ultimately diagnosed with disseminated Mycobacterium chelonae infection. The organism showed cording in culture. As seen in this patient, cording may occur in multiple NTM species and is not reliable as the sole indicator of the presence of TB.

Keywords: Mycobacterium; Mycobacterium chelonae; cording; nontuberculous mycobacteria; stem cell transplant; transplant.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biopsy
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Mycobacterium Infections, Nontuberculous* / diagnosis
  • Mycobacterium chelonae*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis*