Clinico-microbiological Profile of Nontuberculous Mycobacterial Keratitis

J Ophthalmic Vis Res. 2022 Apr 29;17(2):160-169. doi: 10.18502/jovr.v17i2.10786. eCollection 2022 Apr-Jun.


Purpose: To assess the clinical and microbiological characteristics of nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) keratitis and to evaluate their response to medical therapy.

Methods: Sixteen patients of NTM keratitis were retrospectively reviewed from May 2014 to May 2019. Laboratory diagnosis were made using Ziehl-Nielsen acid-fast staining, routine culture method of isolation of nontuberculous mycobacteria and further identification of species by PCR (polymerase chain reaction)-based DNA sequencing targeting the heat shock protein-65 (hsp-65) gene.

Results: Sixteen patients of microbiologically proven NTM keratitis were included. The average age at the time of presentation was 43.56 years (range, 24-73 years). The mean duration of symptoms was 2.23 months. The commonest risk factor was injury with organic material (43.7) followed by ocular surgery (25%). The majority of the nontuberculous mycobacteria were Mycobacterium abscessus (87.6%) followed by M. fortuitum (6.2%) and M. chelonae (6.2%). The in vitro sensitivity showed maximum sensitivity to Amikacin (AMK; 100%) followed by Azithromycin (AZM; 85.7%), and Clarithromycin (CLR; 85.7%). Out of a total of 16 patients, 12 (75%) had total success with medical therapy while 4 (25%) required surgical intervention.

Conclusion: This study is focused on rapid and reliable identification of NTM keratitis through PCR-based identification method to enable effective medical management. The antibiotic susceptibility testing of different subspecies of NTM further reduced the need for surgical intervention. The effective role of AMK either alone or in combination with macrolide antibiotics is also highlighted in this study.

Keywords: M. Abscessus; Nontuberculous Mycobacterial Keratitis; Polymerase Chain Reaction; Atypical Mycobacterial Keratitis.